Predictions for 2008: Cybercriminals follow the money

Experts at Microsoft spent the final days of last year analyzing numerous data from sources that include the biannual Microsoft Security Intelligence Report (SIR).


Here are their resulting predictions about the threats that are most likely to affect you and your family in 2008:



1.       Phishing e-mail scams. E-mail and instant message fraud increased significantly between the second half of 2006 and the first half of 2007 (27 to 37 percent), and is predicted to increase even more in 2008. This year look for cybercriminals who take advantage of the U.S. presidential election or those who want to donate to the Olympic Games. For more information, see How to handle suspicious e-mail.


2.       Electronic greeting card scams. This type of scam became big in 2006 and has increased steadily over time. According to the most recent Microsoft Security Intelligence Report, this type of scam e-mail accounted for close to one in every dozen infected e-mail messages in 2007.


These online cards typically have a subject line such as “You’ve received a greeting from a family member.” When you click the subject line, malicious software installs on your computer. For more information, see How to send and receive e-cards more safely.


3.     Telephone scams. Microsoft experts also warn that we will see an increase in social engineering attacks that involve e-mail that directs you to verify your credit card or IRS refunds through a phone number. The phone number turns out to be a computerized phone answering system that collects the information provided to use for fraudulent purposes. For more information, see Phone phishing e-mail scams direct you to call a phone number.



To help protect yourself from threats this year, take these four steps:


1. Keep your firewall turned on.


2. Keep your software up-to-date.


3. Use antivirus software.


4. Use antispyware software.


Technology alone cannot stop online crime. We encourage you to follow the online safety and privacy guidance available on the Security at Home Web site.

About the Author
Eve Blakemore

Group Manager, Trustworthy Computing

Eve Blakemore is a Group Manager for Trustworthy Computing who delivers consumer guidance around the latest trends in security and privacy. Eve joined Microsoft in 1998 and has worked in corporate and field roles with Microsoft Learning, US Public Sector, Read more »