Phishing scams continue to reel users in

There’s no end in sight to the relentless rise of phishing scams, with a new report highlighting rapid growth in both phishing emails and websites.

The Anti Phishing Working Group (APWG) reports alarming figures for January, with a 42 per cent rise in emails compared with the preceding month. This is well above the 30 per cent average growth rate the past six months.

Phishing websites too are also growing more numerous. There were around 2,500 reported in January, bringing the average monthly increase over the past six months to 28 per cent.

The financial sector was the most frequent focus of these attacks. Phishing scams often involve spoofing a well-known bank and mailing victims to visit that site and enter personal information which can then be captured and used to access the victim’s real account.

Although much of this type of crime is put down to organised crime gangs from Eastern Europe, the global picture is very different. The majority of the phishing sites are hosted within the US at 32 per cent, with China, Taiwan and Korea also accounting for a sizeable slice of the phishing pie.

The APWG also noted a growing trend to use cross-site scripting attacks, exploiting vulnerabilities in browsers to make phishing sites appear verifiably authentic and secure, and to help redirect victims to the spoofed sites.

The group also noted increased use of ports other than 80, indicating increased activity from computers compromised with a back door, allowing criminals to remotely launch such attacks.

In view of this there were also increased numbers of Trojans that could monitor keyboard and Internet activity, recording the data and sending it back to the attacker.

More information is available at the APWG website.

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