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March 11th, 2009

Economic Woes Ramp Up Online Phishing And Malware Threats

The Federal Trade Commission is warning against the boom of new online scams that promise government grants to aid cash-strapped consumers. Cybercriminals, as expected, are jumping in the economic recession bandwagon. Trust these fraudsters to take advantage of and cash in on the global recession.

These include spammed email messages containing links to websites purported to provide information on how to qualify for the economic stimulus package. These sites download spyware into the affected user’s system instead.

Sample spammed message:

A number of malicious websites could also be posing as pages of government agencies, some complete with logos of various news networks, or even a photo of a smiling President Barack Obama urging users to claim their “free grant money.”

These sites promise free information on how to avail of the stimulus money in exchange for a user’s personal information, including name, employment status, salary range, and bank account details. These information are needed supposedly to gauge whether the prospective victim is qualified for a grant but in reality, scammers and phishers sell these stolen credentials in underground markets or use them to hack into bank and other online accounts.

The FTC is advising individuals who have divulged their personal and banking information to such sites to check their bills for unauthorized charges. Trend Micro continues to monitor the Web for recession-related threats as cybercriminals are expected to ride on the popularity of this global concern.

Credit: Ailene Dela Rosa, Technical Communications, Trend Micro

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