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As phishing became a widespread and serious problem, many companies decided to take legal action against the perpetrators. One of the leading companies in this fight was Microsoft, which filed a massive lawsuit against 117 unidentified defendants in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington on March 31, 2005. The lawsuit alleged that these "John Doe" defendants had illegally obtained passwords and confidential information from unsuspecting users by sending them deceptive emails. Microsoft also collaborated with the Australian government in March 2005 to train law enforcement officials on how to investigate and prosecute various cyber crimes, including phishing. In March 2006, Microsoft announced its intention to file another 100 lawsuits in different countries outside the U.S., and by November 2006, it had initiated 129 lawsuits that combined criminal and civil charges. Another company that stepped up its efforts against phishing was AOL, which filed three lawsuits in early 2006 seeking a total of US$18 million in damages from phishing scammers under the 2005 amendments to the Virginia Computer Crimes Act, and Earthlink also joined the cause by helping to identify six men who were later charged with phishing fraud in Connecticut.
Phishing scammers did not only face legal challenges from companies, but also from governments and international organizations. In May 2005, the U.S. Department of Justice announced the arrest of 28 people in eight states and six countries as part of an international crackdown on phishing called Operation Phish Phry. The suspects were accused of stealing personal and financial information from thousands of victims through phishing emails and websites. The operation was coordinated by the FBI and involved law enforcement agencies from Canada, Germany, Romania, Turkey and the United Kingdom. In June 2005, the Anti-Phishing Working Group (APWG), a global coalition of industry, law enforcement and government agencies, launched an online resource center to help consumers and businesses protect themselves from phishing attacks. The resource center provided educational materials, best practices, tools and links to report phishing incidents.
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Despite these efforts, phishing continued to evolve and adapt to new technologies and platforms. One of the emerging trends in phishing was the use of social media and mobile devices to lure victims. Phishers created fake profiles on social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, and sent messages or requests to users pretending to be their friends, colleagues or acquaintances. These messages often contained links to phishing websites or malicious software that could compromise the user's account or device. Phishers also exploited the popularity of mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets by sending text messages or voice calls that claimed to be from legitimate organizations such as banks, credit card companies or government agencies. These messages or calls asked the user to provide personal or financial information or to click on a link that would direct them to a phishing website or download a malicious app.
To combat these new forms of phishing, companies and organizations developed new strategies and technologies to detect and prevent phishing attacks. Some of the methods included using email authentication protocols such as Sender Policy Framework (SPF), DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM) and Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting and Conformance (DMARC) to verify the identity of the sender and prevent spoofing; using encryption and digital signatures to secure the communication between the sender and the receiver; using machine learning and artificial intelligence to analyze the content and behavior of emails and websites and flag potential phishing attempts; using browser extensions and mobile apps that warned users of suspicious links or websites; using two-factor authentication or biometric verification to confirm the identity of the user before granting access to online accounts or services; and using awareness campaigns and training programs to educate users on how to recognize and avoid phishing scams. 0efd9a6b88