Attackers Improving Their Aim Against Top Brands, Study Says

Overall volume of attacks is up, while detection is down, Cyveillance reports



Online criminals are becoming increasingly successful in circumventing enterprise defenses and executing targeted attacks on leading Web brands, according to a study released today.

Phishing remains one of the Web's most popular attack methods, according to Cyveillance's 2H 2009 Cyber Intelligence Report.

"Cyber criminals are focusing their efforts on developing more sophisticated and targeted attacks rather than using a far reaching blanket approach, in order to reap greater financial rewards," said Panos Anastassiadis, chief operating officer of Cyveillance, in a statement. "From emails to social networks, online criminals have increasingly more information at their disposal and a growing array of attack vectors to appear credible and go undetected."

While some research indicates the volume of phishing email has been decreasing, the bad guys are successfully targeting more varied industries and hitting bigger brands in order to gain better financial results, Cyveillance says. "While banks and credit unions continue to be the top targets of phishers, governments and the technology and energy industries are now seeing growing numbers of attacks," the company says.

Cyveillance determined that during the second half of 2009, 399 brands were first-time targets of phishing attacks, nearly double the amount of first-time targets than in the first half of the year. Averaging more than 36,000 confirmed, unique attacks per month in the same period of 2009, phishing attacks continue to succeed, the report says.

In a test of 14 of the top antivirus vendor offerings, less than half of malware was detected, leaving users susceptible to infection, Cyveillance says. Even after seven days to adjust to a new malware threat, AV software averages achieved only a 50 percent detection rate.

Phishing schemes are varied, Cyveillance says, but typically involve a spoofed (spam) email that mimics an email from a legitimate and respected organization in order to steal personal information, which is then used for online fraud, identify theft, or unauthorized network access purposes.

"Fraudsters have also been successful using new approaches by targeting the energy industry for financial gain, sensitive information, or even carbon credits," the company observes.

Likewise, there are many types of malware, but the variations used for financial fraud typically cause the most harm to consumers, Cyveillance says.

Have a comment on this story? Please click "Discuss" below. If you'd like to contact Dark Reading's editors directly, send us a message. Tim Wilson is Editor in Chief and co-founder of Dark Reading.com, UBM Tech's online community for information security professionals. He is responsible for managing the site, assigning and editing content, and writing breaking news stories. Wilson has been recognized as one ... View Full Bio

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