MSN Phisher Jailed For 21 Months

Experts at SophosLabs have reminded internet users of the importance of taking greater care online, as a man is sentenced to 21 months in prison for phishing. 21-year old Jayson Harris from Iowa, US, has been found guilty of sending emails to MSN customers that directed them to a fake website in order to steal personal information.

Using a computer at his grandfather’s house to launch the phishing attack, Harris built an “identikit” website to the real MSN site, in an attempt to fool users into thinking they were entering their sensitive data safely.

Working with the FBI, security officials at Microsoft tracked Jayson Harris after following an electronic trail which reached as far as Austria. After launching a legal suit against Harris, Microsoft won a default judgment of $3 million in December 2005, but it was felt unlikely that they would ever see the money as Harris’s only legal source of income was from working at a Blockbuster video rental store.

“It is essential that anyone who uses the internet should be properly defended against the increasing amount of criminal activity we are seeing online,” said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant for Sophos. “A strong message needs to be sent out by the authorities that they are not going to turn a blind eye to phishers and identity fraudsters.”

Harris has been sentenced to 21 months in prison, and ordered to repay $57,000.

Sophos recommends companies put in place a consolidated solution to defend against spam, phishing, viruses and spyware, and ensure that it is automatically updated as new threats emerge.

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