Phishing Attacks Rival Impact Of Virus Outbreaks

London, Munich, Amsterdam, Brussels, 10th August 2004 – MessageLabs, the leading provider of managed email security services to businesses, has noted that the impact of certain online fraud or phishing – attacks is comparable to and in some cases exceeds the prevalence of some virus outbreaks; even those categorised as high level.

As an example, MessageLabs recently identified a new phishing attack directed at a well-known US bank and its customers. Within the first five hours of its appearance, MessageLabs had already intercepted over 125,000 phishing emails containing URLs to a replica of the bank s website. During the recent high profile MyDoom.O outbreak MessageLabs intercepted approximately 23,000 copies within the first five hours.

Paul Wood, Chief Information Security Analyst at MessageLabs, commented:

Phishing has literally burst on to the scene, a year ago it was practically unheard of, now we re intercepting around 250,000 phishing-related emails or more every month. In many ways a phishing attack is designed in a similar way to a virus outbreak as many emails as possible are spammed out as quickly as possible. Virus writers and phishers alike take advantage of the window of vulnerability – the period of time during which traditional security vendors are unable to offer protection.

While the number of phishing emails has remained relatively consistent over the past few months, there is already evidence to suggest that phishing will follow a similar pattern to viruses with periods of steady activity punctuated by significant outbreaks. Whether we ll see anything on the scale of the SoBig.F and MyDoom.A virus outbreaks remains to be seen watch this space!

About MessageLabs
MessageLabs is the leading provider of managed email security services to businesses based on market shares or revenue according to the Yankee Group Security Solutions & Services, February 2004 Report. The company currently offers industry-leading protection to more than 8,500 businesses around the world from email threats such as viruses, spam and other unwanted content before they reach their networks and without the need for additional hardware or software. Powered by a global network of control towers that currently spans 13 data centers in the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, the Netherlands, Australia and Hong Kong, MessageLabs scans millions of emails a day on behalf of customers such as The British Government, The Bank of New York, Bertelsmann, Bic, CSC, Conde Nast Publications, EMI Music, Diageo, Orange, Random House, SC Johnson and StorageTek. The company has more than 300 channel partners, including BT, Cable & Wireless, CSC, IBM, MCI and Unisys and publishes real-time data and analysis on viruses, spam, phishing scams and other email security threats. MessageLabs statistics and experts are frequently quoted in media outlets around the world and its executives regularly speak at industry conferences. For more information on MessageLabs and its industry-leading email security and management services, please visit

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