FTC to Hold 2-Day Forum on Threats from Spam, Data Theft

Executives from Microsoft, Yahoo and other technology companies will discuss ways to combat unwanted e-mail and data theft at a two-day conference that begins Wednesday.

Hosted by the Federal Trade Commission, the forum will explore emerging threats from unsolicited e-mails, or spam, which can contain viruses or secretly install software used to steal confidential data.

Internet criminals are increasingly using spam to pilfer credit card numbers and hijack personal computers which, in turn, can be used as a launching pad to send out even more spam.

They can even use spam to masquerade as a trusted company's Web site or e-mail in order to steal personal information, a tactic referred to as "phishing."

Security experts have said the problem has been getting worse because highly organized crime rings are emerging worldwide to sell stolen financial data, user accounts and personal identities.

In March, Symantec reported the United States actually accounted for more malicious computer activity than any other country in the second half of 2006. It accounted for one-third of all computer attacks, while second-place China only accounted for 10 percent.

Executives scheduled to speak include: Christopher Rouland, chief technology officer at IBM , Jim Fenton, an engineer at Cisco Systems ; Miles Libbey a senior product manager at Yahoo , and Craig Spiezle, director of online safety strategies at Microsoft .

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