Microsoft Lawsuits Reel in Phishers

Dennis Faas's picture

Phishers, beware. In the past eight months, Microsoft's anti-phishing initiative has resulted in the filing of 129 lawsuits across Europe and the Middle East, the company said last Wednesday.

Phishing activities, in which individuals attempt to deceptively obtain sensitive information, such as bank account information by posing as a credible source, have ballooned in the past few years.

A recent research report released by Symantec has revealed that the number of attempts to trick individuals into handing over their bank account details has doubled in the first half of 2006. (Source:

But why is Microsoft so irked about phishing?

Basically, the company claims that phishing affects their business practices. Nancy Anderson, Deputy General Counsel at Microsoft, explains that as a result of phishing, "there are damages to our trust with the consumer." Further, legal systems in many countries allow for any party suffering from attacks to file for damages. (Source:

97 of the 129 lawsuits in the past eight months are criminal procedures in which Microsoft and other technology companies have aided by providing information. The remaining civil suits are generally directed at young people without criminal intent. Microsoft expects that fines of 1000 to 2000 euros will be a satisfactory amount to act as a deterrent. (Source:

The majority of the criminal cases were filed in Turkey, followed by Germany and France. One of the cases in Turkey has already led to a two and a half year prison sentence. Britain led the way with the most civil cases. Lawsuits were also filed in Dubai, Italy, Morocco and the Netherlands. (Source:

Research company Gartner estimates that phishing damages in 2006 will end up at $2.8 billion. (Source:

All hail Microsoft if they can help contain this massive threat.

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