Phishers hijacking brands from new markets to lure victims

The number of brands used in spoofed emails that trick people into visiting malicious Web sites or clicking on malware attachments rose in the second quarter, an indication that phishers are hijacking the good names of businesses from new markets, a report says.

[Raising awareness quickly: A brief overview on phishing]

The number of unique brands owned by businesses and other organizations that were hijacked by phishers reached a record 639 in the quarter ended in June, according to the latest Phishing Activity Trends Report published this week by the Anti-Phishing Working Group. The previous high was 614 in the fourth quarter of 2012.

"The landscape continues to evolve as fraudsters seek new victims in untapped markets by targeting more brands," Ihab Shraim, contributing analyst and chief information security officer for MarkMonitor, said in the report.

Brands within the payment and financial services industries remained the most popular, used in three-quarters of attacks. Hijacked payment services brands were the favorite at 48 percent.

Other key targets included Internet service providers, cloud-based services and hosting companies, Frederick Felman, chief marketing officer for MarkMonitor, said. Stealing credentials for these sites can open the door to "treasure troves" of profitable data.

The use of brands in other sectors followed in the report, including retail, government, auction and social networking, was the same as in the first quarter. The exception was computer and online gaming. The number of attacks brands in those sectors were used fell to 2 percent from 6 percent in the previous quarter.

The United States remained the number one hosting country for phishing sites for most of the quarter. In May, Germany was ranked at the top for the first time, pushing the U.S. to second.

Interestingly, Russia, which is traditionally near the top, nearly disappeared from the list in June, replaced by Kazakhstan. The switch was likely due to the latter country experiencing a rise in people making mobile payments, contributing analyst Carl Leonard of Websense Security Labs, said in the report.

Most phishing attacks on mobile devices involve sending malicious links via the phone's SMS service, which is the "low-hanging fruit" for phishers, Jeff Debrosse, director of the Websense Security Labs, said.

"The one thing every one has across the planet on their phones, numbering 7 billion (by 2014), is SMS," Debrosse said.

In April, Hong Kong vanished from the list for the quarter, an indication of how criminals will move phishing infrastructures when needed to evade detection and shutdowns by law enforcement, Leonard said.

The amount of new malware used in phishing attacks rose by 12 percent from the same period a year ago, according to the report. So far this year, the number of unique malware is up 17 percent. Trojans accounted for a record 77 percent of all new malware.

[AppRiver filters catch 3.5 billion spam emails in August, US largest point of origin]

Globally, the average malware infection rate of computers was 33 percent, up from the first quarter, the report said. China had the highest rate, with more than half of the computers in the country infected.

Other countries above the global average included Turkey, Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, Russia, Argentina, Taiwan, Slovenia and El Salvador. Europe and Japan had the lowest infection rates and the U.S. fell in the middle with 31 percent.

Join the CSO newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags security

More about Websense

Show Comments

Featured Whitepapers

Editor's Recommendations

Solution Centres

Stories by Antone Gonsalves

Latest Videos

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: The Human Factor - Your people are your biggest security weakness

    ​Speakers: David Lacey, Researcher and former CISO Royal Mail David Turner - Global Risk Management Expert Mark Guntrip - Group Manager, Email Protection, Proofpoint

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Current ransomware defences are failing – but machine learning can drive a more proactive solution

    Speakers • Ty Miller, Director, Threat Intelligence • Mark Gregory, Leader, Network Engineering Research Group, RMIT • Jeff Lanza, Retired FBI Agent (USA) • Andy Solterbeck, VP Asia Pacific, Cylance • David Braue, CSO MC/Moderator What to expect: ​Hear from industry experts on the local and global ransomware threat landscape. Explore a new approach to dealing with ransomware using machine-learning techniques and by thinking about the problem in a fundamentally different way. Apply techniques for gathering insight into ransomware behaviour and find out what elements must go into a truly effective ransomware defence. Get a first-hand look at how ransomware actually works in practice, and how machine-learning techniques can pick up on its activities long before your employees do.

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Get real about metadata to avoid a false sense of security

    Speakers: • Anthony Caruana – CSO MC and moderator • Ian Farquhar, Worldwide Virtual Security Team Lead, Gigamon • John Lindsay, Former CTO, iiNet • Skeeve Stevens, Futurist, Future Sumo • David Vaile - Vice chair of APF, Co-Convenor of the Cyberspace Law And Policy Community, UNSW Law Faculty This webinar covers: - A 101 on metadata - what it is and how to use it - Insight into a typical attack, what happens and what we would find when looking into the metadata - How to collect metadata, use this to detect attacks and get greater insight into how you can use this to protect your organisation - Learn how much raw data and metadata to retain and how long for - Get a reality check on how you're using your metadata and if this is enough to secure your organisation

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them Featuring: • John Baird, Director of Global Technology Production, Deutsche Bank • Samantha Macleod, GM Cyber Security, ME Bank • Sherrod DeGrippo, Director of Emerging Threats, Proofpoint (USA)

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    IDG Live Webinar:The right collaboration strategy will help your business take flight

    Speakers - Mike Harris, Engineering Services Manager, Jetstar - Christopher Johnson, IT Director APAC, 20th Century Fox - Brent Maxwell, Director of Information Systems, THE ICONIC - IDG MC/Moderator Anthony Caruana

    Play Video

More videos

Blog Posts