A new Microsoft (MS) study postulates that recent estimates of financial losses due to online ‘phishing’ scams may be as much as 50 times greater than the real figures.


A Gartner Group study last year placed a figure of (US)$3.2 billion on annual losses to U.S. businesses and individuals through online scams and con games. But MS says the figure is really more like (US)$61 million.

MS in-house researchers Cormac Herley and Dinei Florencio cited a number of reasons for their dramatically lower loss estimate, not the least of which is that victims of scams are reluctant to admit they were taken. But, when they do admit it, they tend to exaggerate their losses. MS also noted that the Gartner study, in particular, apparently did not poll a sample of Americans representative of the overall population.

One way or the other, phishing remains a profitable occupation for some gangland operators. And, according to Internet security experts, its just part of a global cyber crime problem that’s getting out of control, largely due to the absence of effective international cooperation between law enforcement agencies.

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