'60 billion emails sent daily worldwide'
BERLIN, Apr 26 : Internet users around the world send an estimated 60 billion emails every day and many of these are spam or scam attempts.
Deutsche Telekom Chief Executive Kai-Uwe Ricke yesterday said cyber criminals were growing more active and sophisticated, and the vast email traffic meant industry, government and Internet users had to be vigilant and work together.
''This figure was new for me as well -- worldwide there are around 60 billion emails sent every day,'' Telekom Chief Executive Kai-Uwe Ricke told an Internet security conference.
''A large percent of it is spam,'' Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer added.
German Interior Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble warned of the recent growth in ''phishing'' -- fishing for passwords, often via fake emails that especially target online banking.
''In 2005, the attempts at phishing (globally) dramatically increased, by 300 per cent compared with the previous year,'' he said. ''According to international estimates, phishing is successful with up to 5 per cent of all Internet users.'' He said this success rate caused inestimable economic damage worldwide. Internet security firm Symantec Corp registered some 8 million phishing attempts last year.
Germany's BKA federal crime office said this month it had shut a ''phishing'' ring of Germans and Lithuanians, sparing online banking customers millions of euros of potential losses.
The BKA said the phishing ring obtained online banking customers' user names and passwords and other sensitive data from their victims' computers by means of a ''Trojan horse'', a self-circulating, virus-like programme that spreads by email and sends data from the infiltrated computer back to the ''phisher''.
Schaeuble said many Germans used no form of Internet protection, exposing themselves needlessly to phishing and other criminal attempts to infiltrate their computers.
''One out of every four Germans is without anti-virus protection and more than half had no firewalls,'' he said.
Ballmer said this situation was probably worse in the United States, but there were signs Internet users were becoming better educated about protecting themselves from cyber criminals.
He said it was important for software developers like Microsoft to make their products as secure as possible. But he warned that improved security would require the combined efforts of authorities, the industry and users themselves.
''The hackers out there are really are smart and getting smarter. We all have to run in front of them,'' Ballmer said.
To improve US cyber security, Ballmer said Microsoft would launch an initiative next month in the United States modelled on a German programme, ''Germany Safe on the Net'', set up a year ago by Telekom, Microsoft, the government and Internet-related firms to improve Internet safety.