I’ve noticed over the past couple of weeks that some phishing email have made it past the spam filters at Yahoo! and AOL. Usually, the spam filters at Yahoo are excellent, but just today, I deleted two email — one was an EBay phishing scheme and the other invited me to become the secretary for an African corporation. My pay would be $10 million transferred into the bank account of choice.

While I appreciate the offer to become an instant deca-millionaire, I was more interested to know why the spam filters aren’t blocking out everything. (AOL’s spam filter isn’t nearly as good as the Yahoo spam filter.) I found my answer in a story on MSNBC. Read it here: www.msnbc.msn.com/id/14954146/.

According to the Symantec’s latest Internet Security Threat Report, www.symantec.com/threatreport, issued today and covering the six-month period from Jan. 1, 2006, through June 30, 2006, over 157,000 unique phishing emails were sent out all over the world, an increase of 81 percent over the previous six months. Each phishing email is often sent to hundreds of thousands of individuals.

Phishing is when someone sends you an email pretending to be a financial institution or other company with which you do business. The email asks you to verify your name, passwords, or other financial data, which is then used to steal your money or identity.

Symantec’s Internet Security Threat Report includes an evaluation of network-based attacks, vulnerabilities, malicious code and an analysis of phishing, spam and security risks. The report is based on Symantec data collected from more than 40,000 security devices deployed in more than 180 countries.

Symantec’s report indicates that phishers are getting more sophisticated in the types of scams they’re concocting. In other words, the emails may not have misspellings, poor grammar or other easy giveaways. And, they’re better able to dodge spam filters — although I did delete 132 spams from my Yahoo account that accumulated in the past 2 days.

The bottom line: Phishing, vishing and other forms of identity theft aren’t going away anytime soon. Beware — the next email you open could be a fake.

September 25, 2006