Banking chaos sparks phishing ‘explosion’

Turmoil in the banking sector sparked an explosion in phishing attacks last month, as fraudsters attempted to take advantage of the uncertainty to target banks and investors on both sides of the Atlantic. New statistics from MessageLabs show that between September and October when the credit crisis took hold, there was a 106 per cent […]

Turmoil in the banking sector sparked an explosion in phishing attacks last month, as fraudsters attempted to take advantage of the uncertainty to target banks and investors on both sides of the Atlantic.

New statistics from MessageLabs show that between September and October when the credit crisis took hold, there was a 106 per cent rise in phishing attacks.

These scams use emails from apparently credible sources such as banks to try to obtain clients’ bank or credit card details.

As last month’s crash hit, phishers were using the confusion to target institutions involved in high-profile mergers, bailouts or collapses, the company said.

They included Bank of America, Wachovia and Manhattan Chase in the US, alongside Lloyds TSB and the Royal Bank of Scotland in the UK.

In order to mitigate the risk of fraud through phishing, banks should stress to their customers that they will never ask for personal or account details via email, MessageLabs said.

The firm’s chief security analyst, Mark Sunner, commented: « It’s crucial that everyone is aware of potential threats and is educated on how to avoid falling victim to them. »