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09:13 PM
George V. Hulme
George V. Hulme

Phishing Attacks Steadily Rise

A report this week shows the number of phishing attacks continue to climb, year over year. Ditto for the number of Web servers dishing out malware. And the country that hosts the most phishing sites? That one just may surprise you.

A report this week shows the number of phishing attacks continue to climb, year over year. Ditto for the number of Web servers dishing out malware. And the country that hosts the most phishing sites? That one just may surprise you.The Phishing Activity Trends Report [PDF] for the third quarter of 2009, published by the Anti-Phishing Working Group, paints a grim outlook when it comes to phishing. Nearly all statistics relating to phishing attacks are on the rise.

Phishing attacks used to only be a problem for the corporate brands being exploited and consumers who got scammed by entering their personal financial information into the snare of a phisher's Web site. Not any more. Not with the dramatically improved quality of many phishing e-mails seen today. They now rival e-mails sent by legitimate businesses. And the ease of spawning a professionally looking phishing and malware serving web site does not help. Or the speed at which most people will click on anything that appears to have come from someone they trust.

As was well-known to those who have been paying attention to the IT risk landscape for some time, but was just recently made clear in the Aurora attacks to the rest of the world, it only takes one wrong click (and a zero-day attack or an unpatched browser) to shake the foundations of any organization's IT security efforts.

Too bad, after nearly a decade of phishing growth, the security industry hasn't improved it's ability to squash the phishing threat. According to the APWG, the number of unique phishing websites reported to them broke new records when it tallied 56,362 in August. The previous high was way back in April 2007, when they reached 55,643.

Unique phishing reports submitted to APWG during this period also broke new records, reaching 40,621 in August, a 5.5 percent lift over the previous record in September, 2007.

And while the total number of malware infected computers dropped to roughly 11 million - more than 48.35 percent of the total sample of scanned computers were infected.

As for the the country that hosted the most phishing sites in the third quarter of 2009? That would be the United States, taking the prize in July, August, and September. In September, the United States hosted 75.76 percent of all such sites. Second and third place was Hong Kong and China, with 6.49 percent and 3.44 percent respectively.

Be careful out there. We're awash in a cesspool of malware.

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