As if the fact that it's only November 2007 wasn't depressing enough, a recent story I read quoted Indiana University security researcher Christopher Soghoian, who warned that the 2008 presidential elections are the next likely source of "phishing" bait for hackers.
According to the story:
The presidential campaigns' tactic of relying on impulsive giving spurred by controversial news events and hyped-up deadlines, combined with a number of other factors such as inconsistent Web addresses and a muddle of payment mechanisms creates a conducive environment for fraud, says Soghoian.
"Basically, the problem here is that banks are doing their best to promote safe online behavior, but the political campaigns are taking advantage of the exact opposite," he says. "They send out one million e-mails to people designed to encourage impulsive behavior."
So if you get bulk emails from Huckabee or Hillary asking for your generous support, and you feel the urge to give it, do yourself a favor and surf over to their official Web sites instead.
(The worst part is, it's hard to blame the spammers, as they're just taking advantage of yet another intersection of politics and stupidity.)
And as a recent Gartner report says, by going after political contributors, many of whom are wealthy, the online scam squad are simply following the money.
However, the same report also warns that, on the whole, mass spam is giving way to precisely targeted phishing attacks, many targeted quite specifically at executive-level managers.
These attacks are often disguised as emails from reputable organizations and even government agencies (the Better Business Bureau and the IRS are two examples given), or even labeled as "proforma invoices". Because of the high-level targets involved, they are much more profitable than the average spam scam, and as the rule is "the more you have, the more you lose."
For example, the Gartner report says that the average loss for someone earning less than $138K/yr. is around $1,500, while those earning more than $138,000 lose $5,700 on average.
Look on the bright side -- at least now that you've been warned, you have a decent excuse for ignoring all those political emails for the next year or so (feel free to pass it around).