infoTECH Feature

November 11, 2013

Report Shows Increase in Phishing and Faster Malware Campaigns

A pressing issue facing businesses of all sizes with digital presence is security. Cyber criminals can commit crimes without the fear of being apprehended by the attacks they perpetrate in countries that are tens of thousands of miles away. While global organizations are improving their collaborative efforts to apprehend these criminals, there's still a long way to go before the punishment deters these individuals. One of the best ways to combat these attacks is by being informed on how they commit these crimes.

The Commtouch (News - Alert) Q3 Internet Threats Trend Report is one reliable resource that regularly highlights the methods used around the world. The report is based on the billions of daily transactions it handles through its GlobalView Cloud. The latest report for the third-quarter of 2013 showed an increase in phishing and real-time malware campaigns.

One of the primary ways to introduce malware to unsuspecting individuals is by using current news events. According to the report it is taking less time to exploit the hottest news events taking place around the world averaging 22 hours. The rate at which these individuals can take advantage of current events means they have more opportunities to catching users off guard.

The news events during the third quarter that garnered the most attention were the royal baby Prince George, NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, and the continuing crisis in Syria.

Commtouch also saw an increase in malware distributions through websites and travel websites were the most popular, followed by transportation and business websites. The fluctuation of these subjects also demonstrates cybercriminals are very well aware of what is trending and execute their attacks accordingly.

Phishing is a technique that uses email messages, websites, and even phone calls to get users to disclose sensitive information, which can then be used to empty bank accounts or use credit cards to purchase items.

By the third quarter of this year phishing sites increased by close to 35 percent, with PayPal (News - Alert) sites accounting for close to 750 new phishing sites each day. The sheer number of sites being created every day demonstrates the doggedness of these individuals, and the success rate they have in fooling users into believing they are accessing a real website.

Highlights from the report include:

  • Delivery of 69 billion daily spam messages compared to the second quarter's 83 billion – a drop of approximately 17 percent, with dieting as the most popular topic followed by stocks.
  • The level of malware in e-mails remains around the same at nearly 2 billion e-mails per day.
  • The top countries with spam-sending bots were India, Russia, Ukraine, Saudi Arabia, and Spain.

"The Q3 Trend Report highlights that the complexity of cybercriminal attacks is increasing. Their campaigns are usually targeting end users – to protect the users, Internet service providers, email hosters, and content providers must be aware of these trends and continually improve their tools to fight these cybercriminals," said Lior Kohavi, Chief Technical Officer at Commtouch.

Edited by Stefania Viscusi

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