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Phishing Attacks Increase 20 Percent in Q3 2013 as Crimeware Evolves to Evade Detection

The APWG reports in its new Q3 2013 Phishing Activity Trends Report that the number of phishing campaigns increased by more than 20 percent in the third quarter of 2013, with crimeware attacks evolving and proliferating, according to several established APWG metrics. The total number of unique phishing websites observed rose to 143,353 in Q3, up from Q2’s 119,101. The increase is generally attributable to rising numbers of attacks against money-transfer and retail/e-commerce websites.

During the same period, there was an 8 percent decline in the number of brands targeted by phishers, as the number of brands targeted fell from an all-time high of 441 in April 2013 to 379 in September 2013. Ihab Shraim, CISO and Vice President Anti-Fraud Engineering and Operations, MarkMonitor and Trends Report contributing analyst said, "Fraudsters look for profit and zoomed in on the brands that deliver the highest returns."

Attack vectors continued to evolve, placing social media at forefront of crimeware’s vanguard in the quarter. “In the 3rd quarter of 2013, we also saw a change in the phishing themes used by malware authors. An emphasis on social media-themed subjects, such as ‘Invitation to connect on LinkedIn’, was used to entice users who would be used to seeing such subjects,” said APWG contributor Carl Leonard of Websense Security Labs.

APWG member PandaLabs cataloged nearly 10 million new crimeware samples from July to September, and PandaLabs observed that the number of new malware samples in circulation in the first nine months of 2013 was larger than the total for all of 2012. More than 59 percent of computers in China appeared to be infected with malware or spyware, a record high for any country.

The full text of the report is available here: http://docs.apwg.org/reports/apwg_trends_report_q3_2013.pdf

About the APWG

The APWG, founded in 2003 as the Anti-Phishing Working Group, is the global industry, law enforcement, and government coalition focused on unifying the global response to electronic crime. Membership is open to qualified financial institutions, online retailers, ISPs and Telcos, the law enforcement community, solutions providers, multi-lateral treaty organizations, research centers, trade associations and government agencies. There are more than 2,000 companies, government agencies and NGOs participating in the APWG worldwide. The APWG's www.apwg.org and education.apwg.org websites offer the public, industry and government agencies practical information about phishing and electronically mediated fraud as well as pointers to pragmatic technical solutions that provide immediate protection. The APWG is co-founder and co-manager of the Stop. Think. Connect. Messaging Convention, the global online safety public awareness collaborative www.stopthinkconnect.org and founder/curator of the eCrime Researchers Summit, the world’s only peer-reviewed conference dedicated specifically to electronic crime studies www.ecrimeresearch.org.

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