Report: Keylogging, phishing rise sharply

Keylogging activities increased by 250 percent from January 2004 to May 2006, while phishing alerts jumped 100-fold, a new McAfee report reveals.

Identity theft continues to plague businesses and individuals globally, according to a new white paper released by security vendor McAfee.

Keylogging code or software that records key strokes for the purpose of stealing confidential information such as passwords, has increased 250 percent between January 2004 and May 2006, McAfee said in a media statement Tuesday.

The security vendor noted that phishing activities also rose over the same period, where alerts tracked by the Anti-Phishing Working Group multiplied a hundred-fold.

Citing various sources, McAfee reported that data theft annually costs consumers and businesses some US$50 million in the United States and about US$3.3 billion in the United Kingdom. No figures were available for the Asia-Pacific region.

Citing recommendations from the French Information Security Club, McAfee urged businesses to adopt the following precautions to tighten security within the enterprise:

- specify a person and a backup responsible for information systems security;
- have policies for human resources administration--as well as for trusted vendors and partners--that are consistent with the level of security you choose for your information systems;
- take action to reduce risky behavior such as downloading unknown programs, opening e-mail without discretion, responding to e-mail messages that ask for confidential information, through education and by creating documents detailing the rules of hardware usage or listing user responsibilities;
- build the network and define the parameters for hardware and software so that it is impossible to bypass the system;
- adopt manageable solutions for staff who are in charge of security and must support the system; and
- create an inventory of hardware and software, and maintain message boards for users.

The Identity Theft  white paper, available in PDF version, can be downloaded from McAfee's Web site.