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"Digital PhishNet" Is Reeling In Cyber Crooks


Digital Phishnet graphicYou're checking e-mail and up pops a message. It looks legit—like it's from your bank, Internet Service Provider (ISP), or another business you deal with all the time. But, it's asking for sensitive financial information—your credit card information, social security number, passwords, etc. "Just click on the link below," the message says. But you're suspicious. Is it a ruse? Have you been "phished'?

Chances are you have.

Over the past year, tens of millions of Americans have been targets of bogus e-mails, web pages, and pop-ups seeking personal financial data, making "phishing" one of the fastest growing cyber crimes around.

A word to the wise: err on the side of caution. Don't respond to unsolicited e-mails asking for your financial secrets. Visit our Internet tip page for more details and advice.

What's being done to stop these scams and find the culprits? Plenty. In fact, the FBI and its partners recently launched a proactive, groundbreaking operation called "Digital PhishNet."

Our team includes more than 50 cyber experts from:

  • Five major e-commerce and technology companies (like Microsoft and VeriSign).
  • Four top ISPs (such as AOL and EarthLink).
  • Nine of the top 10 U.S. banks and financial service providers.
  • Key federal law enforcement agencies: the Secret Service, the Federal Trade Commission, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and the FBI.
  • And the National Cyber-Forensics & Training Alliance (NCFTA) in Pittsburgh, which also serves as Digital PhishNet's home base.

The hallmark of Digital PhishNet? Real-time information sharing and analysis.

It works like this: Members of private industry or law enforcement get wind of a scheme. They quickly forward the details electronically to the Digital PhishNet team. The team digs further and makes a preliminary intelligence assessment. Then, it prioritizes the attack based on the universe of threats, comes up with a proactive targeting strategy, and refers the case to appropriate law enforcement agencies. An investigation is launched, with other partners pitching in as needed.

It all happens at lightening speed ... because it has to. Phishers often create and take down these phony sites over the course of just a few days.

Since many phishing schemes are launched overseas, we're also working with our international partners. That includes cyber training for law enforcement in places like Nigeria and Hungary, with more planned in the Far East and other areas.

The bottom line? Phishing is already becoming a more dangerous sport. Thanks to Digital PhishNet, arrests have been made in the U.S., Eastern Europe, and South America. Stay tuned for more!

Links: File a Complaint through the Internet Crime Complaint Center | FBI Cyber Program homepage