The phishers and malware writers have started sending e-mails that refer to the high profile data security breach at MasterCard -- when information on more than 40 million credit cards was stolen - with an offer to help worried card holders into "recovering" their stolen information.
Bradley Silver, chief operating officer of Brandimensions, a firm that specialises in protecting against phishing attacks, said that phishing attacks have increased by 30 percent since news of the MasterCard breach hit the wires.
"Over the past 96 hours we have seen a significant increase in phishing attacks and we anticipate this to continue over the next week. Banks of all sizes should see this as a warning call to take action and set up the appropriate security measures to protect against online fraudulent activity such as phishing," said Silver.
Virus writers are expected to use the MasterCard security breach to help spread their creations using 'socially engineered' e-mails, according to Mihai Radu, communications manager at Romanian antivirus firm BitDefender.
"We expect to see new virus variants and phishing attempts based on this case within the week... this may seem as a very short time but such attempts must work within the limited attention span imposed by modern media," said Radu.
However, Frost & Sullivan Australia's security analyst James Turner warned that high profile news stories like the MasterCard security breach will always be followed up by both legitimate security vendors and hackers trying to exploit the situation for their own benefit.
"Everyone is going to be trying to capitalise on this problem. This is a newsworthy story - 40 million credit cards stolen -- and everyone wants to jump on the bandwagon. It is not only the nasty people out there capitalising on this -- everyone wants to associate themselves with something in the press including antivirus companies and high-end penetration testing firms, said Turner.
"Wherever there is fear and uncertainty there are people that will exploit it," added Turner.