SOURCE: CMO Council

December 16, 2008 16:10 ET

Malware and "Malicious Intent" Most Prevalent Cyber Threats; Seniors Main Targets of Fraud

Analysis of Bytecrime.org Complaints Shows Cyber-Seniors Are Primary Targets of Online Fraud; New Slam the Online Holiday Scam Initiative to Raise Awareness

NEW YORK, NY--(Marketwire - December 16, 2008) - Nearly 60 percent of people who reported being victims of cyber crime experienced malware and "malicious intent" -- either phishing attempts, fraud, ID theft, spam or a computer intrusion -- according to an analysis of data collected from the "Take a Byte Out of Cyber Crime" campaign, which was initiated by the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Council and its public sector partners.

Disturbingly, 28 percent of people reporting cyber crimes indicated that they were victims of online fraud -- with nearly half of those complainants being aged 60 or over. As a result, the CMO Council has launched a new initiative with AVG Technologies -- called Slam the Online Holiday Scam -- to give away security software for use during the holiday season to identify fraudulent eCards and eGreetings that contain malware or send recipients to bogus or contaminated Internet sites to collect personal identity information.

According to cyber crime analytics, harassment was the second most prevalent form of online threats and digital intrusion. More than 40 percent of the complaints were from people who indicated they were victims of either cyber-bullying (defined as the repeated hurtful or damaging remarks posted on online forums or messages sent electronically) or cyber-stalking (which refers to the use of the Internet, e-mail or other electronic communications to surreptitiously follow or haunt a person).

The Take a Byte Out of Cyber Crime program (www.bytecrime.org) is an ongoing public service campaign sponsored by the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Council in association with leading public- and private-sector partners. The campaign website collects information on computer security breaches logged by visitors to the Bytecrime.org Cyber Crime Center and provides free, downloadable content for adults and children, entitled Mind What You Do Online.

Since the launch of Bytecrime.org in 2006, computer users have accessed its educational resources to protect themselves, their families and friends from the growing incidence of cyber crime. The Cyber Crime Center has captured reports from over 250 computer users in North America, Asia, Africa and the Middle East.

Other notable findings from the analysis included:

--  Of all cyber crimes committed, 18 percent of the people who reported
    them knew the perpetrators personally. This finding relates to the fact
    that 14 percent of all attacks involved social networking sites -- an
    increasingly prominent e-communication context for computer crimes and
    online harassment.
--  Twenty (20) percent of cyber crimes took place over instant messaging
    channels. Several reports chronicled harassment of computer users in online
    gaming chat rooms.
--  Thirteen (13) percent of the complainants cited child pornography-
    related crimes... including unsolicited or obscene materials sent to a
    child, or online enticement of children for sex acts.
    

"It's alarming to find that more than half of the people who reported cyber crime experienced fraud or harassment -- and that many of those victims were senior citizens," said Donovan Neale-May, executive director of the CMO Council. "What's more, it's distressing to see the growing incidence of cyber crimes taking place in social network environments and through instant messaging.

"Our analysis reinforces the fact that computer users must be even more vigilant -- especially in increasingly popular cyber contexts like social media -- if they're to protect themselves from onerous cyber attacks," Neale-May added.

Take a Byte Out of Cyber Crime is one of several programs being undertaken by the CMO Council to chronicle -- and help combat -- the increasing scope and severity of cyber crime.

Two other CMO Council-supported cyber crime prevention initiatives are currently underway. They include "Protection from Brand Infection," which examines the brand image and integrity issues of online counterfeit sales, gray market knock-offs, phishing attacks, email scams, online brand and trademark abuse, domain kiting, pay-per-click fraud, copyright and patent infringements, as well as product piracy and fakes. The new "Slam the Online Holiday Scam" initiative is being underwritten by the computer security software company, AVG Technologies, and is designed to help consumers combat fraudulent e-cards and other online scams by offering safety tips and free anti-virus software (www.avgfree.com).

About the CMO Council

The Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Council is dedicated to high-level knowledge exchange, thought leadership and personal relationship building among senior corporate marketing leaders and brand decision-makers across a wide-range of global industries. The CMO Council's 3,500 members control more than $100 billion in aggregated annual marketing expenditures and run complex, distributed marketing and sales operations worldwide. In total, the CMO Council and its strategic interest communities include over 6,000 global executives across 57 countries in multiple industries, segments and markets. Regional chapters and advisory boards are active in the Americas, Europe, Asia Pacific, Middle East, Latin America and Africa. The Council's strategic interest groups include the Coalition to Leverage and Optimize Sales Effectiveness (CLOSE), Brand Management Institute, and the Forum to Advance the Mobile Experience (FAME). More information on the CMO Council is available at www.cmocouncil.org.

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