Phishers unleash zombie army

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Networks of compromised PCs or botnets are fast becoming the weapon of choice for organized gangs to launch phishing attacks, according to a new report.

Researchers at the Honeynet Project found that gangs are turning to zombied computers to outwit banks and law enforcement agencies. The researchers compiled the data from a network of PCs deliberately left open to attack. The study gives a highly detailed account of the different techniques used by phishers.

According to the research, phishers use botnets for four main reasons; setting up phishing web sites targeting well known online brands, sending spam emails advertising phishing web sites, installing redirection services to deliver web traffic to existing phishing web sites and propagation of spam and phishing messages via botnets.

The report showed that research also suggested phishing attacks are becoming more widespread and well organized. "We have observed pre-built archives of phishing web sites targeting major online brands being stored, ready for deployment at short notice, suggesting the work of organized phishing groups," the researchers said. "Such content can be further propagated very quickly through established networks of port redirectors or botnets."

The report said there was a "clear connection between spamming, botnets and phishing attacks, as well as the use of intermediaries to conceal financial transfers."

Earlier in March, the Honeynet project released a report detailing the botnet threat.

The report, entitled "Know Your Enemy: Phishing," is available at

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