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Thanksgiving Day sees surge in Phishing

Security firm Barracuda Networks reported a more than 10x surge in the number of phishing Web sites created and three times the number of phishing emails sent out in the last 24 hours.

This increase in activity indicates that scammers and their criminal networks are working feverishly to cash in on ‘Black Friday,’ traditionally the biggest shopping day of the year, and the long Thanksgiving Day weekend.

Barracuda Central, a 24/7 security operations centre at Barracuda Networks that continuously monitors the latest spam, virus and other Internet threats, including phishing Web sites, observed a tremendous increase in the number of fake Web sites targeting popular shopping sites, including eBay, Amazon, PayPal, and other e-commerce sites, pop up on Thanksgiving Day.

Typically phishing Web sites are set up via compromised PCs of innocent businesses and are quickly shut down once the business has been notified.

However, by exploiting the four-day Thanksgiving weekend in which most U.S. business activity shuts down on Thursday and Friday, scammers are banking on the idea that the sites will go uninterrupted because no one is available to take them offline.

“Consumers need to be extra vigilant when shopping online this weekend,” said Dean Drako, president and CEO of Barracuda Networks. “Anyone planning to do holiday shopping online this weekend should go directly to the sites that they plan to purchase from, rather than click on URLs that arrive via emails.”

The Thanksgiving surge in phishing Web sites has also created an increase in emails directing unsuspecting users to the sites directly by offering ‘great deals’ or ‘sales’ as well as emails that attempt to lure the recipient into verifying account information via a link to the fake sites.

“We typically see an increase in phishing activity before a regular two-day weekend, but the volume of phishing sites and corresponding email in just this past 24 hours is quite astounding,” said Drako. “We expect this blitz to continue over the next few days.”

Désiré Athow

Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website building and web hosting when DHTML and frames were en vogue and started writing about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium. Following an eight-year stint at where he discovered the joys of global tech-fests, Désiré now heads up TechRadar Pro. Previously he was a freelance technology journalist at Incisive Media, Breakthrough Publishing and Vnunet, and Business Magazine. He also launched and hosted the first Tech Radio Show on Radio Plus.