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Phishing Attacks Reach Record Highs

Cyveillance researchers attribute spike to financial downturn
Phishing attacks have hit new records for volume and frequency during the past two months, a researcher said today.

In the first quarter of 2008, Cyveillance typically saw a daily average number of phishing attacks in the low-400 range, the company said. In the past month, however, that average has increased to more than 1,750, with record peaks as high as 13,209 in a single day.

During the first half of this year, the quantities and frequency of the attacks have steadily increased, averaging 400 to 500 per day, with spikes occasionally reaching nearly 1,000 per day, Cyveillance said. While the summer of 2008 brought an overall slowdown in attacks, there has been a significant increase in attack volumes and frequency of spikes since September. Cyveillance analysts and outside observers attribute the increased volumes to many influences, most notably the worldwide financial crisis and the relentless efforts by phishers to elude detection.

"We are seeing spikes in phishing attacks far higher than we have ever seen in the past, due in part to cybercriminals taking advantage of the recent instability in the financial markets," said Panos Anastassiadis, CEO and chairman of Cyveillance.

The Anti-Phishing Working Group reported earlier this month that crimeware-spreading URLs infecting PCs with password-stealing code rose 93 percent in the first quarter to 6,500 sites, nearly double the previous high of November 2007 -- and an increase of 337 percent from the number detected end of Q1, 2007.