Because of the sheer volume of tax preparers placing social security numbers, bank account information and payroll records on their computers and sending some of this data over the Internet, cyber criminals are specifically targeting them with keyloggers and system monitors that can easily capture this information and lead to costly identity fraud.
Boulder, CO (PRWEB) March 18, 2008
"The year over year growth in online tax filings has made this season one of the most critical times for Internet users to protect their valuable personal and financial information," said Peter Watkins, CEO of Webroot. "Because of the sheer volume of tax preparers placing social security numbers, bank account information and payroll records on their computers and sending some of this data over the Internet, cyber criminals are specifically targeting them with keyloggers and system monitors that can easily capture this information and lead to costly identity fraud."
According to recent data from Webroot's Threat Research Team, more than 1200 new key-logging and 336 system monitoring spyware and variations have been found and defined in the past month alone. This spike in malicious spyware is even more alarming when combined with the fact that last year's tax season set a new record for number of electronic filings, according to the IRS. Up 8.9 percent from 2006, more than 76.7 million people electronically filed their returns with a majority completed in March and April. Additionally, a record 22 million taxpayers filed from their home computer, up 11 percent from the previous year.
Malware threats such as keyloggers and system monitors are typically a cause for concern since they can be used to monitor Internet usage and behavior for malicious purposes. Even if users are just preparing their taxes on a computer connected to the Internet they can be at risk. Because they are created to be non-intrusive and are disguised as legitimate system files malware can be especially hard to detect without an installed desktop security solution.
Webroot has developed a simple list of recommendations for Internet users to follow during the tax season to avoid malware threats and infections:
-- Even if they are not going to file online, users preparing taxes on computers connected to the Internet should be sure they are running updated versions of a proven best of breed antispyware and antivirus software and should scan their entire system at least once a week, but definitely before preparing and/or filing taxes;
-- For Federal electronic filings, make sure to use services directly linked to http://www.irs.gov
-- Do not respond to email inquiries regarding your taxes;
-- If you plan to file your state taxes online be sure to only use links directly from your official state homepage. Links to the official websites for all 50 states are available at http://us.gov/Agencies/State_and_Territories.shtml;
-- When finished filing taxes and using security passwords, users should also use privacy software for erasing important data from their systems.
To learn more about Webroot AntiVirus with AntiSpyware and Firewall or Webroot AntiSpyware Corporate Edition with Antivirus, visit Webroot's Products for Home and Home Office.
Webroot Software, Inc. provides industry leading security software for consumers, enterprises and small and medium businesses worldwide. Globally recognized for its award-winning Spy Sweeper(R) line of antispyware and antivirus products, Webroot security software consistently receives top review ratings by respected third-party experts and has been adopted by millions globally. Webroot AntiVirus and AntiSpyware with Firewall provides complete protection against viruses, spyware, data theft and hackers. Webroot Parental Controls offers powerful and easy to use protection to keep kids safe online. Webroot Window Washer(R) software eliminates all traces of PC and Internet activity. Webroot recently entered the Software as a Service market and now offers a comprehensive range of web-based e-mail management and protection services. Webroot products can be found at http://www.webroot.com and on the shelves of leading retailers worldwide. To find out more visit http://www.webroot.com or call 1-800-772-9383.
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