The UK government is introducing new legislation that will allow the law courts to impose sentences of up to 10 years on perpetrators of phishing attacks.
The government is introducing new offences under its Fraud Bill to crack down on rising levels of cyber crime by making it easier to convict online fraudsters, particularly those convicted of carrying out phishing scams.
The revised bill now includes a new offence of fraud by false representation, which covers phishing attacks in which spam e-mail is used to direct computer users to fake Web sites in order to deceive them into giving over their personal financial data.
The bill will also make it an offence to be in possession of articles for use in frauds, such as spyware programs and credit card readers. A new offence of obtaining services dishonestly will attempt to deal with fraudsters who use stolen credit card details to make internet purchases.
Commenting on the new legislation, Attorney General Lord Goldsmith, says: "This reform is needed to enable prosecutors to get to grips with the increasing abuse of technology, particularly in relation to fake credit cards scams and personal identity theft, which cost millions of pounds every year."
According to online security services firm MessageLabs phishing incidences reached a peak point in January 2005 - when it intercepted over 7.7 million phishing e-mails - but then dropped off again.
But MessageLabs says recent months have seen a resurgence of phishing attacks due to a huge rise of zombie networks being used to pump out massive volumes of scam e-mails.
The government's new bill coincides with the launch of the Operation Spam Zombie campaign which will see international trade and government members of the London Action Plan (LAP) apply pressure on ISPs to help identify compromised machines on their networks.