Phishing attacks saw a dramatic increase in December according to one group of researchers, with cyber criminals looking to capitalise on the seasonal increase in Christmas shoppers.

According to new research from managed security firm Network Box into web-based security threats, more than 57% of all threats were phishing attacks, compared to 28.3% in November.

The firm’s analysis of web-based threats in December 2009 shows that just over 57 per cent of all threats were phishing attacks, compared to 28.3 per cent in November.

“The run up to Christmas is traditionally a time for hackers to strike the vulnerable. A higher proportion of shopping is done online, with more money spent than at any other time of year,” warned Network Box internet security analyst Simon Heron.

“Christmas offers rich pickings for phishers. This is likely to continue through the sales in January, and we urge online bargain hunters to be vigilant.”

The firm found that the Brazil was the greatest source of viruses and spam during that time, accounting for 20.9% of all viruses and 9.1% of all spam originated in December. The figure was up from 14% and 8% respectively in November.

The advice to users is to ensure that their antivirus software is fully updated.

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