The growing threat of identity theft


January 20, 2004

The statistics are scary: there are 81,000 known computer viruses and 500 new viruses detected each month. Two billion spam email messages are sent each day and 27% have a hidden Customer ID to determine if they have been opened (and by whom). Last year the cost to business of spam more than doubled to US$20 billion in the United States alone. Identity theft occurrences grew 79% last year and the cost of identity theft to US corporations over the last five years has been estimated by the US Federal Trade Commission at US$60 billion. Now a survey has found that 28% of adults cannot accurately identify Phishing Email Scams, the most likely way identity can be stolen.

Email security company MailFrontier, has found that 28% of U.S. adults cannot accurately identify phishing emails. The independent national survey found that consumers are still easily fooled by some of the earliest, most unsophisticated phishing scams and concern over the level of consumer and business email users' awareness to this growing email threat. It only takes one response to a phishing email for an individual to give away access to their personal finances or access to a corporation's most confidential financial, employee and intellectual property information.

MailFrontier commissioned the survey which included five real-life emails and asked consumers to evaluate each email and identify if the email was legitimate or fraudulent. The Mailfrontier site is worth bookmarking as a resource for assessing email threats. The site offers the same test for any visitor, enabling them to test their "phishing IQ", sign up for email fraud advisories and there's an archive of all the known phishing scams.

About the Author
Mike Hanlon Mike grew up thinking he would become a mathematician, accidentally started motorcycle racing, got a job writing road tests for a motorcycle magazine while at university, and became a writer. As a travelling photojournalist during his early career, his work was published in a dozen languages across 20+ countries. He went on to edit or manage over 50 print publications, with target audiences ranging from pensioners to plumbers, many different sports, many car and motorcycle magazines, with many more in the fields of communication - narrow subject magazines on topics such as advertising, marketing, visual communications, design, presentation and direct marketing. Then came the internet and Mike managed internet projects for Australia's largest multimedia company, (Australia's largest Telco), (Australia's largest employment site),,, and a dozen other internet start-ups before founding Gizmag in 2002. Now he writes and thinks. All articles by Mike Hanlon
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