Web based financial crime has become pervasive, so much so that that the new threats discovered in 2008 alone constitute a majority of the threats discovered over most of the past three decades.

It's also relatively inexpensive for the crooks. Symantec, which reports the number of global phishing sites increased to more than 55,300 in 2008 from 34,400 in 2007, says criminals can now gain access to credit card details for as little as one dollar, while full identifies can be had for as little as $58. And perhaps most strikingly, Symantec says the 1.6 million threats discovered in 2008 are 60 percent of the 2.6 million malicious threats detected in the past 27 years, and that more than 100,000 malicious codes are born every working day.

Gartner says more than five million U.S. consumers have lost money to phishing attacks in the 12 month period ending in September 2008, a 40 percent increase over the previous year. The bright side is that even though the overall number of victims is higher, average losses are lower—the average loss in the survey period was $351, or 60 percent lower than the year before.


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