SOURCE: Proofpoint, Inc.

November 25, 2008 08:00 ET

Stay Safe Online This Holiday Season With Proofpoint's "Five Golden Rules"

Email Users Can Protect Their Identity and Financial Information With These Helpful Tips

SUNNYVALE, CA--(Marketwire - November 25, 2008) - The 2008 holiday season started early this year for spammers and scammers. In recent months, cybercrooks have been exploiting the global financial crisis by increasing attacks on banks and their customers with malicious software, spam, phishing attacks and other online tricks. Now, as online merchants ramp up their Web-based direct-to-consumer outreach, offering promotions and sales to boost Internet sales, cybercrooks will also look to take advantage of shoppers trying to snag a bargain. The Proofpoint Attack Response Center advises that, despite recent declines in overall spam volumes, the 2008 holiday season will be accompanied by an elevated level of activity from online scammers and spammers.

As in past years, Proofpoint expects to see a significant spike in attacks -- ranging from spam and phishing emails to malware attacks -- designed to take advantage of consumers' mindsets during the holidays. Look out for holiday shopping, charity, online banking and tax scams that are designed to trick consumers into giving away personal information or into downloading malware that gives criminals remote access to their computers.

Email security vendor Proofpoint (http://www.proofpoint.com) offers the following "Five Golden Rules" that consumers can follow to make sure their cyber-holiday season is a safe one:

1. Be aware: View with suspicion any email with requests for personal IDs, financial information, user names or passwords. Your bank, online services or legitimate online stores are unlikely to ask you for this type of information via email. Consumers should also be suspicious of similar emails that appear to come from an employer. Never send personal financial information such as credit card numbers and Social Security numbers via email.

2. Don't click: If you receive a suspicious email, don't click the links in the email and never open file attachments from anything but 100 percent trusted sources. Links embedded in emails may take you to fraudulent sites that look similar or identical to the legitimate "spoofed" site. Instead of clicking, open a browser and type the actual Web address for the site into the address bar. Alternatively, call the company using a phone number you already know.

3. Be secure: When you are shopping online, entering important information such as credit card numbers or updating personal information, make sure you're using a secure Web site. If you are on a secure Web server, the Web address will begin with "https://" instead of the usual "http://". Most Web browsers also show an icon (such as Internet Explorer's "padlock" icon) to indicate that the page you are viewing is secure.

4. Don't fill out email forms: Never fill out forms within an email, especially those asking for personal information. Instead, visit the company's actual Web site and ensure that the page you are using is secure before entering sensitive information.

5. Keep an eye on your accounts: Check the accuracy of your credit card and bank statements on a regular basis, especially during this time of financial turmoil and during the holiday season. If you see anything suspicious, contact the financial institution immediately.

About Proofpoint, Inc.

Proofpoint secures and improves enterprise email infrastructure with solutions for email security, archiving, encryption and data loss prevention. Proofpoint solutions defend against spam and viruses, prevent leaks of confidential and private information, encrypt sensitive emails and archive messages for retention, e-discovery and easier mailbox management. Proofpoint solutions can be deployed on-premises (appliance), on-demand (SaaS) or in a hybrid architecture for maximum flexibility and scalability. For more information, please visit http://www.proofpoint.com.

Proofpoint is a trademark or registered trademark of Proofpoint, Inc. in the US and other countries.

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