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Criminal expeditions

Criminal expeditions

Phishing emails are in growth mode in the Asia-Pacific region.

The Asia-Pacific region is seeing repeated attacks launched from fraudulent email and “that is just the beginning,” Brightmail’s Garry Sexton warns. Authorities need to attack the people behind the “criminal side of spam”, as these could adversely affect business communications – particularly those of networked enterprises, says Sexton, vice president Asia-Pacific of the anti-spam software and services firm.

“Anybody doing e-related business from government departments to commercial enterprises has the potential to be phished. If you can’t trust the person you’re dealing with, that’s the end of the internet as a business medium.”

Email tricks

Sexton says there has been growth in fraudulent and phishing email in recent months. In November 2003, Brightmail tracked 860 million email messages determined to be of the phishing variety, and the figure reached more than two billion in March 2004.

In the Asia-Pacific region, around 5 per cent of all spam falls into the fraud category, meaning it contains messages designed to trick users into revealing sensitive information, such as financial data and passwords.

Brightmail filters around 15 per cent of all internet email traffic worldwide. It claims to block over 95 per cent of spam, using technology to identify and automatically distribute spam-blocking updates every 10 minutes, with a false positive rate of 99.9999 per cent (one in a million email messages is incorrectly classified as spam).

Sexton says once Brightmail identifies an email as fraudulent it can write a filter, post it to ISP sites and block future instances to mitigate the damage. He claims the company is able to provide a filter of sufficient quality to prevent false positives within 10 minutes.

He says, however, this is just the “technology side” of helping control the problem. The company aims to work with local government and police in the region to provide them with information to help them prosecute the fraudsters.

Sexton believes the company has its finger on the pulse of these attacks. “We have to work with government and government agencies in providing them with this information.”

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