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February 3, 2010

Social networking and HMRC security scams claim victims

Social networking has opened up new ways of collaborating and communicating, but it's also opened up a mighty can of highly wriggly worms when comes to security. A report by data protection firm Sophos earlier this week found a 70% rise in attacks

By Cbr Rolling Blog

Social networking has opened up new ways of collaborating and communicating, but it’s also opened up a mighty can of highly wriggly worms when comes to security. 

A report by data protection firm Sophos earlier this week found a 70% rise in attacks on users on social networking sites. A similar number of businesses were worried that the way their staff behaved on sites such as Facebook could put their businesses at risk. 

While most of the problems were found to be increase in spam – more annoyance than a threat -there had also been a marked increase in malware sent through social networking sites. Sophos pointed out a grim irony that threats from malware and identity thefts are increasing, just as many companies begin to soften their stance on social networking and allow staff to use the sites. 

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But then, you have to admire the ingenuity of scamsters, who are constantly finding new ways to torment Internet uses. This was ably highlighted in reports of a phishing scam involving the HMRC. The carrot tempting Internet users to lower their normal ‘Scam Alert’ guard was the promise of a refund back from the Tax Man.  

When they clicked on a link on from the HMRC landing page, visitors were immediately asked to enter bank and other details, so that the rebate could be squirted straight into their bank account. As if. Apparently, browser and fraud prevention specialists Trusteer, found that the HMRC attacks were twice as successful as normal banking phishes.  

I’m not surprised by this. As one of the many millions who’ve just filed their tax return online – which involved many painful hours combing the website looking for information and calling up the helpline – I can well imagine how normal rational thought could go out the window at the prospect of getting some money back from the Tax Man.
 

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