Financial firms and social media remain top Phishing targets

Kaspersky Labs says that nearly 30 percent of all Phishing attacks last year targeted financial institutions, second only to social networking Phishing attack campaigns, which accounted for nearly 36 percent of all attacks of this type.

Using anonymized data from the Kaspersky Security Network, an opt-in feature for customers of Kaspersky's security offerings, the Russian firm sourced Phishing data for the whole year.

People in the United States, followed by those in Russia and Germany, were the most targeted in Kaspersky's data, but the U.S. represented 31 percent of the detected Phishing attacks for the year, 20 percent higher than Russia, the second most targeted country.

There isn't a good reason for the fluctuation in attacked geography, Kaspersky said, but it's likely that enhanced Web-based crime protections, stronger domain registration requirements, may have played a role. Then again, the disbursement might be based entirely on the number of Internet users in a given area, so the criminals are drawn to the natural increase of connected people.

Social networks were the top Phishing target in 2013, with nearly 36 percent of the overall volume, which makes sense given that those attacks often have a goal of propagation. If a person's social presence is compromised, then their friends and any associated accounts (especially if they recycle passwords), such as email, are likely to fall too.

On the other hand, financially-based Phishing attacks were also popular last year. Kaspersky says that nearly 23 percent of the year's Phishing attacks targeted the financial sector globally. Of those attacks 12 percent used a fake bank and banking website, while six percent targeted online stores. The remaining five percent targeted payment systems.

"The conclusion here is obvious: the attackers are increasingly focusing on bank web services and this is one of the strongest trends in the area of phishing threats," Kaspersky's report noted.

"The trend is even more clear-cut when financial phishing is separated from the other categories. In 2013, fake bank pages made up 70.59% of all Kaspersky Lab Web anti-phishing detections in the Online Finance category, but one year earlier the share of bank phishing was only 51.95%."

In 2013, 25 banks attracted about 60 percent of all "bank" attacks. However, most of the banks in that list represent some of the world's largest international banking brands, operating in dozens of countries worldwide.

When it came to payment systems, PayPal, American Express, Visa, Western Union,, MasterCard, and Post Finance, were among the top targets. Statistically, PayPal was the top target, followed by American Express, Visa, and MasterCard.

Amazon was the top targeted store for Phishing campaigns, followed by Apple's iTunes, eBay, and Alibaba. The slight incline in the number of Apple related Phishing attacks is expected to grow, because criminals behind Phishing schemes tend to roll with the trends.

"Apple devices are always a hot topic for news and discussion on the Internet, particularly when a new product is about to be released. For the fraudsters, using "hot" keywords is the usual way of attracting audiences to fake sites and, as the graph shows, this method works," Kaspersky's report explained.

"Apple is not the only [Phished] target that shows a correlation between the number of attacks and the company's activities. Natural disasters and high-profile international events attract active coverage and discussion in the media and on the Internet, giving rise to the emergence of so-called thematic phishing and spam.

"Similarly, large-scale marketing campaigns held by a bank, an e-store or other commercial or financial organizations may become a pretext for phishing."

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