The number of internet users worldwide reporting phishing attacks increased an astonishing 87 percent in the year ending April 30, Kaspersky Lab said in a survey report. It said 37.3 users reported phishing in the period, compared with 19.9 million in the previous 12 months.
“For some time, phishing remained relatively primitive from a technical point of view,” the report said. “It was relatively rare and it typically posed a threat only to the most naïve and inexperienced users. But today, the scale of these attacks and the technologies used are such that phishing has been elevated to a category of its own, meriting a separate study.”
The survey found that most of the users targeted by phishing were in Russia, the US, India, Vietnam and the UK. More than half (56.1%) of all identified sources of phishing attacks were located in just 10 countries – mainly the US, the UK, Germany, Russia and India.
Kaspersky said Yahoo!, Google, Facebook and Amazon were leading targets of malicious users, and more than 20% of attacks targeted banks or other financial institutions.
“In 2012-2013, 102,100 internet users around the world were subjected to phishing attacks every day. This is double the amount of intended victims over the previous period,” the report said.
It said the simplest types of phishing attacks could be launched without any major infrastructure investment or in-depth technological research.
“This situation has led to its own form of ‘commercialization’ of these types of attacks, and phishing is now being almost industrialized, both by cybercriminals with professional technological skills and IT dilettantes.
“Overall, the effectiveness of phishing, combined with its profitability for criminals and the simplicity of the process, has led to a steadily rising number of these types of incidents.”
The report said the overwhelming majority of phishing attacks were launched against users when they were surfing the web (87.9%), as opposed to via e-mail (12.1%).
It said the 30 websites that were copied the most often by phishers were mainly those of services and companies whose names were known by a mass audience. “The number of attacks against one or another online resource may correspond directly to its popularity,” the report said. “For example, the percentage of attacks involving phony Yahoo! sites in the total phishing volumes has fallen alongside the company’s decreased share of the web search market and other online services, while Amazon’s percentage has grown markedly, in line with the company’s success on the e-commerce market and the successful launch of its tablets.”
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