Microsoft fishes for phishers, sues worldwide

Posted by Mark Raby

Redmond (WA) - In the latest attempt to crack down on cyber crimes, Microsoft has set into motion 129 different lawsuits in countries across the world against phishing organizations and individuals that try to gain a hold of Web surfers' personal data.

Microsoft announced the onslaught of legal action during a conference on identity theft held by the European Union. According to reports, accounts of phishing attacks are now double what they were a few years ago. Estimated damages from these attacks is near $2.8 billion for 2006. Phishing has become even more apparent with the explosion of social networking sites, where it's easier for cyber-criminals to build trust with users before preying on them.

"There are damages to our ability to conduct business. There are damages to our trust with the consumer," said Microsoft in-house counsel representative Nancy Anderson. Prior to officially filing legal action, the company was investigating a total of 253 individual cases.

Of those that mushroomed into legal battles, 50 were filed in Turkey, a leading region in the phishing crisis. Germany and France rounded out the top three, with 28 and 11 criminal complaints, respectively, filed in those countries. Britain also made a mark, designated as the country with the most civil litigation from Microsoft's phishing crusade.