One area of cyber crime that that has picked up dramatically over the last 12 months is phishing. If you are not familiar with what phishing is, it is the art of tricking people in to handing over their credentials or access to protected systems. Phishing campaigns tend to be huge email blasts that contain either links or attachments. You click a link that takes you to a website that looks like your bank’s, and enter your credentials without thinking. Or in the case of a more sophisticated attack, you click a link or attachment which installs a piece of malware which compromises a system or network.
Verizon’s 2016 Data Breach Investigations Report carried out a study of 150,000 phishing emails and alarmingly, 30 percent of phishing messages were opened – up from 23 percent in the 2015 report – and 13 percent of those clicked to open the malicious attachment or nefarious link.
It seems that cyber criminals are on a major phishing expedition, with the latest figures from The Webroot Quarterly Threat Trends Report stating that 1.385 million new phishing sites are created each month. May 2017 set a new monthly record with 2.3 million sites created.
The report also states that phishing sites are getting much harder to detect as they are becoming much more sophisticated. They also found that these sites tend to stay up for a very short period of time: between four and eight hours. This enables the sites to avoid getting tracked or blacklisted. Even if the blacklists are updated hourly, they are generally 3–5 days out of date by the time they’re made available, by which time the sites in question may have already victimized users and disappeared. The report also found that criminals are using company impersonations as one of their main techniques, posing as emails from Google, Chase, Dropbox, PayPal and Facebook being the biggest targets.