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7 in 10 Americans Fall Prey to Phishing Scams

Wikipedia: "Phishing is a form of social engineering, characterised by attempts to fraudulently acquire sensitive information, such as passwords and credit card details, by masquerading as a trustworthy person or business in an apparently official electronic communication, such as an email or an instant message. The term phishing arises from the use of increasingly sophisticated lures to "fish" for users' financial information and passwords."

Net 'phishing scams' increasing

Washington - About one in four American Internet users are hit with e-mail scams every month that try to lure sensitive personal information from unsuspecting consumers, a study says.

Of those receiving the phony e-mails, most thought they might be from legitimate companies - seven in 10, or 70%, were fooled by the e-mails, said the report.

The study released on Wednesday by America Online and the National Cyber Security Alliance looked at Internet security and "phishing scams".

Phishing refers to e-mails that appear to come from banks or other trusted businesses and are used to induce recipients to verify their accounts by typing personal details, such as credit card information, into a website disguised to appear legitimate.

Adequate computer security vital

"What's happening is that more and more people are actually engaging in transactions online that would generate e-mail traffic that the scammers are copycatting," said Tatiana Platt, senior vice-president at AOL.

The study found nearly three-quarters of those surveyed, 74%, use their computers for sensitive transactions such as banking, stock trading or reviewing medical information. That leaves phishers with a good chunk of internet users to target, Platt said.

Platt said too many people still don't have adequate computer security to guard against viruses, hackers and other threats. The study found 81% of US home PCs lacked at least one of three critical protections - updated anti-virus software, spyware protection and a secure firewall.

The researchers conducted in-home interviews with more than 350 internet users in the United States. The researchers also reviewed the e-mails received by those households.

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