GeoCities Closure sees Surge in Phishing

Following its initial announcement on April 23, Yahoo! will today close down its GeoCities free hosting service and delete all GeoCities files from their servers. Existing members are being encouraged to move their sites to the commercial Yahoo! Web Hosting service, and GeoCities Plus customers will be able to upgrade to Yahoo! Web Hosting at no extra charge.

Not all traces of GeoCities will disappear after today — Yahoo! states that existing GeoCities email addresses will continue to work, and the Internet Archive has been working to archive as many sites as possible before GeoCities closes today.

Free hosting services have always been attractive to fraudsters, and the speculation over the profitably of GeoCities may not have been the only reason for today's closure — nearly all of the phishing attacks hosted on geocities.com this month were actually targeted against its owner, Yahoo!. Although Yahoo! stopped accepting new registrations on April 23, the number of phishing attacks hosted at geocities.com has seen a surge in October. Of the 930 confirmed phishing sites hosted at GeoCities in 2009, 143 of these were reported this month.

Today's closure will no doubt inconvenience some fraudsters, but other free hosting services are available, and indeed, plenty of these are already used to host phishing sites.