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Phishing Attacks Soar in Record-Making Surge

May 26, 2016

The Anti-Phishing Working Group (APWG) observed more phishing attacks in the first quarter of 2016 than at any other time in history. According to the APWG’s new Phishing Activity Trends Report, the total number of unique phishing websites observed in Q1 2016 was a record 289,371, with 123,555 of those phishing sites detected in March 2016.
Those quarterly and monthly totals are the highest the APWG has seen since it began tracking and reporting on phishing in 2004.
There was a 250 percent increase in phishing sites between October 2015 and March 2016. “We always see a surge in phishing during the holiday season, but the number of phishing sites kept going up from December into the spring of 2016,” said Greg Aaron, APWG Senior Research Fellow and Vice-President of iThreat Cyber Group. “The sustained increase into 2016 shows phishers launching more sites, and is cause for concern.”
APWG Chairman Dave Jevans said, “Globally, attackers using phishing techniques have become more aggressive in 2016 with keyloggers that have sophisticated tracking components to target specific information and organizations such as retailers and financial institutions that top the list.”
On the heels of this report of record numbers of cybercrime attacks, APWG will be holding its annual general meeting and cybercrime research conference next week in Toronto. There, its global cadre of cybercrime responders, managers and university researchers will be plotting strategies to neutralize the menace of cybercrime, a sprawling threatscape growing seemingly unchecked in scope and virulence in recent years.
In the Q1 Trends Report, APWG found that the Retail / Service sector continued to be the most heavily attacked. APWG member MarkMonitor observed more attacks targeting cloud-based or SAAS companies, which drove significant increases in the Retail/Service sector. Financial and Payment targets were also heavily targeted as usual.
Ransomware continues to be another increasing threat, with APWG members Forcepoint and PandaLabs seeing increasing numbers of ransomware infections in early 2016. According to Carl Leonard, Principal Security Analyst at Forcepoint: “The onslaught of ransomware has not abated in 2016. Ransomware authors exhibited a willingness to adjust their scare tactics and software in Q1 2016 as they sought to scam more end-users. The takeaway is clear – ransomware authors are more determined and aggressive in 2016. End-users should be aware of the danger and take preventative measures.”
APWG co-founder and Secretary General Peter Cassidy reviewing the quarter’s disturbing numbers said, “The threat space continues to expand despite the best efforts of industry, government and law enforcement. It’s clear we have a lot to talk about in Toronto, perhaps broaching some broader resolutions to unify efforts across sectors. After all, what is civilization but the largest conspiracy?”
The full text of the report is available here:
http://docs.apwg.org/reports/apwg_trends_report_q1_2016.pdf
By APWG – Anti-Phishing Working Group
http://www.apwg.org

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