Phishing attacks have reached alarming levels in the first quarter of 2016, says the Anti-Phishing Working Group (APWG). Since APWG first started tracking and reporting malware in 2004, the levels recorded in the Q1 2016 report are the highest.
The Phishing Activity Trends Report states that the Retail/Service sector is still registering the highest number of attacks (42.71%), and phishing attacks are growing monthly, with the fastest growth during the winter holidays in 2015. The Retail/Service sector comes second. Since October 2015, the number of unique phishing websites increased 250%, from 48,114 to 123,555 in March 2016.
“MarkMonitor continues to detect a high volume of attacks targeting cloud-based or SAAS companies, driving significant increases in the Retail Service sector. Financial and Payment targets are still heavily targeted,” explained Stefanie Ellis, AntiFraud Product Marketing Manager at MarkMonitor.
The US remains one of the top countries to host phishing websites, while the countries most infected with phishing attacks are China (57.24%), Taiwan (49.15%), and Turkey (42.52%).
“We always see a surge in phishing during the holiday season, but the number of phishing sites kept going up from December into the spring of 2016,” said Greg Aaron, APWG Senior Research Fellow.
Besides phishing attacks, ransomware has notably increased and become more aggressive. 20 million new malware samples were caught and reported in the first quarter of 2016. APWG detected that Asia and Latin America were the top areas infected with ransomware, while Japan and European countries were at the bottom of the infection list.
APWG’s goal is to detect and communicate the number of unique phishing reports received as email campaigns and unique phishing sites on the web. The research is carried out by APWG and member companies.