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Fraudsters Shift from Financial Targets to Stealing Personal Information, VeriSign’s Online Fraud Barometer Research Reveals

Average Financial Loss Per Online ID Fraud Falls By 24 Percent

London, March 17, 2010 - An online YouGov survey commissioned by VeriSign Inc. (NASDAQ: VRSN), the trusted provider of Internet infrastructure services for the networked world, has revealed that 11 percent of the online UK population has been a victim of online ID fraud within the last 12 months. The VeriSign Online Fraud Barometer®, a bi-annual assessment of the UK online fraud landscape, uncovered a 12 percent rise in the number of people that did not suffer any immediate financial loss as a result of the online ID fraud. This indicates an increase in the number of victims who suffer identity theft or other less immediately tangible losses, which reflects an increase in email or social networking cyber attacks.

The average sum lost by victims of online ID fraud was £352 in the last 12 months. Twelve percent of victims are still waiting to be fully reimbursed for the money they lost, representing a slight improvement since the last VeriSign Online Fraud Barometer, when 14 percent were still waiting. Four percent believe they will never recoup the money they lost to fraud.

British shoppers remain cautious when it comes to handing over sensitive information on the web. Eighty two percent believe they only ever use websites with enhanced security when making transactions or providing personal information online, looking out for sites with strong authentication and visual security cues such as trust symbols. So-called ‘silver surfers’ are the most conscientious group with 88 percent stating that they check the security credentials of a site before interacting with it. While this vigilance may be helping to stem the amount of money going to online fraudsters, consumers need to remain alert when exchanging information through email and social networking sites, when they may believe they are not at immediate risk of online ID fraud or financial loss.

The barometer uncovers current trends and habits among British web users, including:

  • Those based in Northern Ireland are currently the least likely to be defrauded, with only five percent stating that they have been a victim of online ID fraud in the last 12 months. They have taken over from the Scots who topped the last VeriSign Online Fraud Barometer (eight percent) as least likely victims.
  • Londoners are increasingly careless when buying online, with 20 percent stating that they don’t make sure they only use websites that have enhanced security – a two percent increase over the last six months.
  • The online ID fraud landscape in Wales has improved most dramatically over the last six months, with the number of victims halving from 20 to 10 percent since the last VeriSign Fraud Barometer.

Phil D’Angio, director at VeriSign, stated: "Online criminals only need three pieces of information to steal your digital identity. While online ID theft may not necessarily result in immediate financial loss, web users need to remember that fraudsters can farm email and social networking sites for information which enables them to impersonate you online. Alternatively they could sell your information to other cyber criminals who want to use your details for criminal purposes. Consumers need to remain vigilant at all times by reading a site’s security policies, checking their privacy settings and looking out for security certificates and seals. Businesses can differentiate themselves in this challenging economic climate by bolstering security on their websites and by showing consumers exactly how secure they are through techniques like strong authentication or EV SSL which turns the address bar of a secure site green, effectively giving consumers the green light for transacting online."

Michael Levi, Professor of Criminology at Cardiff University said: "When a house gets burgled, victims can see that their property is missing immediately. Unfortunately when it comes to online identity theft the damage may not be obvious straight away, so victims may not recognise that their identity has been compromised until it’s sold on the black market and used by others for their own gain, whether that is to conceal their own criminal identity when conducting illegal activities, or to fraudulently obtain goods, money or services. Organisations in both the public and private sectors need to work together to educate consumers to exercise caution online, but also to help users to realise when they may have been a victim of online ID fraud, especially as the true repercussions of that theft may be delayed and cause harm at a later date if left unresolved."

The VeriSign Online Fraud Barometer® is supported by an ongoing campaign to educate members of public on how to protect themselves online – more details can be found at www.trustthetick.com, including the following tips:

  • Protect your computer by adding a personal firewall and anti-virus software. Disconnect from the Internet when you’re not online, and if you’re using a laptop create a password that’s required to access any information.
  • Keep your passwords safe - don't share passwords, change them often and don't choose one that can be easily guessed. Where possible use two-factor authentication - where the second password is generated from a device and is a number that changes every time you log-in.
  • Verify the Web site you are on is safe. Before entering your payment details into any website, check that the URL begins with https – the "s" stands for "secure." If a site has obvious typographical errors, or no evidence of security information, avoid it. If in doubt, click on the VeriSign tick to verify a site’s identity, and if possible use a high security web browser that displays the green EV SSL address bar.
  • Don’t download email attachments or click on a link in an email unless it's from someone you trust and never provide sensitive information in an email. Remember that financial websites will never tell you that you must provide your username, password, PIN or other sensitive information in an email; fraudsters will.
  • Ensure you are using a secure Wi-Fi network. Set up a password to secure your home wireless network and avoid buying online or checking bank and investment websites on a public Wi-Fi network.

About VeriSign
VeriSign, Inc. (NASDAQ: VRSN) is the trusted provider of Internet infrastructure services for the networked world. Billions of times each day, VeriSign helps companies and consumers all over the world engage in communications and commerce with confidence. Additional news and information about the company is available at www.verisign.com.

Contacts
Media Relations:
Victoria Henry,
vhenry@verisign.com,
+ 44 (0) 7920 598 016

Weber Shandwick for VeriSign:
Lydia Curtis,
Lcurtis@webershandwick.com,
+44 (0)207 067 0513

Investor Relations:
Nancy Fazioli,
nfazioli@verisign.com,
+1 650-426-5146

Statements in this announcement other than historical data and information constitute forward-looking statements within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933 and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. These statements involve risks and uncertainties that could cause VeriSign's actual results to differ materially from those stated or implied by such forward-looking statements. The potential risks and uncertainties include, among others, the uncertainty of future revenue and profitability; potential fluctuations in quarterly operating results due to such factors as the risk that VeriSign's announcements may not result in additional products, services, customers, profits or revenues; and increased competition and pricing pressures. More information about potential factors that could affect the company's business and financial results is included in VeriSign's filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, including in the company's Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2008 and quarterly reports on Form 10-Q. VeriSign undertakes no obligation to update any of the forward-looking statements after the date of this press release.

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