EBay, PayPal Rank High on Phish Lists

by Sean Michael Kerner

Study shows that the e-commerce outfits are the top phishing targets.

If you've been receiving suspicious and likely phished e-mails purporting to be from eBay or PayPal, you're not alone.

According to year-end 2005 data from research firm Netcraft, eBay and PayPal were the top phishing targets representing 62 percent of attacks.

Netcraft's data is derived from its Toolbar, which aims to block and or help users identify which sites are legitimate and which are phishing attempts. Netcraft claims that its toolbar, in a little over a year of existence, has blocked more than 41,000 confirmed phishing URLs.

Web security firm GeoTrust also has an anti-phishing toolbar and has eBay and PayPal in its top three phishing targets. GeoTrust spokesperson Joan Lockhart said that Citibank rounds out the top three with Amazon becoming a really close fourth.

Other financial institutions also need to worry. Lockhart noted that GeoTrust is seeing phishers going after a broader range of financial institutions including credit and insurance companies, not just the top-name banks.

Phishers are also now using more complex schemes in order to lure victims. Phishing e-mails now typically contain multiple URLs in them according to Lockhart.

Netcraft's study noted the filenames of the phished URLs often include the brand name of the targeted financial institution.

The malicious URLs use some form of deception that could include a misspelling or a hyphenated phrase to confuse victims. Phishers also made use of common eBay and PayPal strings such as "eBayISAPI" and "wbscr" within the URL that makes the address appear legitimate.

Phishers are apparently also making it hard to be shut down. Lockhart said that some phishers have been moving the sites from one fraudulent hosting location to another. The site is just moved so that it can reappear in another country, on another server, within minutes.

It's not quite as easy as you'd think to actually spot a phishing attempt. A recent study from MailFrontier reported that only 4 percent of users could spot a phished e-mail 100 percent of the time.

Article courtesy of internetnews.com

This article was originally published on Saturday Jan 7th 2006