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23 May 2006

21 months jail for MSN phisher who worked at Blockbuster

The phisher tried to steal details from MSN users.

Experts at SophosLabs™, Sophos's global network of virus, spyware and spam analysis centers, have reminded internet users of the importance of taking greater care online, as a man is sentenced to 21 months in prison for phishing.

Jayson Harris, a 21-year-old living in Davenport, Iowa, has been found guilty of sending emails to MSN customers that directed them to a fake website in order to steal personal information.

Using a computer at his grandfather's house to launch the phishing attack, Harris built an "identikit" website to the real MSN site, in an attempt to fool up to 250 users into thinking they were entering their sensitive data safely.

Security officials at Microsoft working with the FBI, tracked Jayson Harris after following an electronic trail which reached as far as Austria.

After launching a legal suit against Harris, Microsoft won a default judgment of $3 million in December 2005, but it was felt unlikely that they would ever see the money as Harris's only legal source of income was from working at a Blockbuster video rental store.

"It is essential that anyone who uses the internet should be properly defended against the increasing amount of criminal activity we are seeing online. Everyone should practise safe computing and protect themselves with up-to-date security software," said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant for Sophos. "A strong message needs to be sent out by the authorities that they are not going to turn a blind eye to phishers and identity fraudsters."

Harris has been sentenced to 21 months in prison, and ordered to repay $57,000.

Sophos recommends companies put in place a consolidated solution to defend against spam, phishing, viruses and spyware, and ensure that it is automatically updated as new threats emerge.

About Sophos

More than 100 million users in 150 countries rely on Sophos as the best protection against complex threats and data loss. Sophos is committed to providing complete security solutions that are simple to deploy, manage, and use and that deliver the industry's lowest total cost of ownership. Sophos offers award-winning encryption, endpoint security, web, email, mobile and network security solutions backed by SophosLabs - a global network of threat intelligence centers.

Sophos is headquartered in Boston, US and Oxford, UK. More information is available at