The summer is here and folks are traveling here and there as they enjoy the sunshine and football show piece going on in France. Others will be heading to Brazil in August for the olympics.But one thing that will definitely face all these travellers is the usual summer season phishing scams that continues to grow every year. Email phishing attacks are especially popular over the European summer season, partly because there’s an increase in email marketing and special offers linked to the holidays.During the summer of 2015, for instance, the number of unique phishing attacks went up by 6%. A total of 123 brands were targeted and over 10,000 unique phishing websites were reported, the majority of them hosted in Asia and U.S. The most-targeted industries for phishing attacks are retail service, financial services and payment services.It seems that during the summer period people are probably more likely to respond to these offers. They also appear willing to spend more money than usual. This creates a perfect opportunity for cyber criminals to hook their bait. But what is phishing and why does it happen more in summer than other seasons in Europe? And how can people guard against it?
To begin with, it’s important to understand the practice that lies at the heart of phishing which is identity theft. This is a form of fraud in which one person pretends to be someone else to illegitimately benefit at the victim’s expense.Cyber criminals usually acquire the information that they need by stealing a wallet, going through mail, or dumpster diving. They also target organisations that are in possession of sensitive private information by stealing IDs, back-ups or documentation. In Europe in 2015, there was one new victim of identity theft every one minute. Identity theft losses amount to millions of dollars annually according to various studies.In 2015, over 500,000 cases were reported and it believes that more than 800,000 cases would be reported by the end of 2016 across Europe. In the anonymous world of the internet, individuals are uniquely identified by account numbers and passwords which form the basis of online authentication. Online identity theft happens when a victim’s online identity is stolen by cyber criminals and used for unauthorised purposes that cause financial losses to the victim. Email phishing attacks are an increasingly popular and sophisticated method that cyber criminals employ to get the information they require to commit online identity theft.
Phishing is an online identity theft method in which spoofed emails are sent out to lure recipients through embedded hyperlinks to fraudulent websites. What happens is that cyber criminals attempt to trick online users into divulging personal financial data like passwords and account numbers. Initially phishing emails and the associated bogus websites where mostly masked as coming from financial services institutions. These were easily identifiable because of poor language and grammar or non-authentic looking copies of websites with more than 70 million people reported to have no literacy skills in Europe. As users grow more sophisticated, so too do cyber criminals. In 2015, they continued targeting a wider set of industries, using more authentic looking emails and websites. Well-planned phishing websites fool more than 70% of respondents, while others do not notice browser-based security warnings and indicators and for others they ignore these warnings. There’s no correlation between victims’ vulnerability and their gender, age, education levels or computer experience. Keeping yourself abreast of phishing trends is useful as you head out for summer 2016 festivities.