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Thursday, August 20, 2009

Is your own computer stealing your identity?

Is a virus or other malicious code on your computer helping identity thieves steal your identity? According to an article on http://www.informationweek.com/, the chances are good.


"In the first half of 2009, the number of computer users affected by malware engineered to steal personal information has risen by 600% compared to the January through June period in 2008, according to PandaLabs, part of computer security company Panda Security. In quantitative terms, Panda reports identifying 391,406 computers infected with identity-theft malware in the first six months of the year."


The article went on to say "Panda reports receiving more than 35,000 new malware samples -- viruses, worms, Trojans and the like -- every day. Trojan software designed to steal bank details, credit/debit card numbers, or online account login names and passwords represents 71% of this total. That's up from 51% in 2007.

Identity thieves are also seeking sensitive information through a more diverse set of targets. Where previously financial data thieves focused on spoofing online bank sites to dupe users into entering login information, they have recently been targeting a variety of services where payment account information may be stored or entered, like PayPal, Amazon, eBay, or charity sites.

The methods used to propagate identity theft malware have also become more diverse. Whereas e-mail used to be the primary medium for malware distribution, social sites have become a major attack vector, along with infected Web pages, SMS messages containing Web links, and spyware that attempts to convince users to pay for fake antivirus programs. "

The rest of the article can be found here - http://www.informationweek.com/news/security/vulnerabilities/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=219400767&subSection=News

The best defense - good anti-virus and anti-spyware software. That ... and a good consumer attorney.

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