Record number of phishing websites in the wild

The number of brands targeting by phishing attacks sustained an all-time high of 382 in February and March, while cybercrime gangs deployed a record number of phishing websites during the same quarter, according to the APWG.

APWG Secretary General Peter Cassidy said, “The reach and ambition of cybercrime gangs advances apace today, a decade on from when the first phishing attacks were reported. In the first quarter of the year, reports received by the APWG indicate new record highs in the numbers of attacks on identifiable brands, the numbers of phishing websites to lure Web users – and in the proportion of malware executables comprised of advanced Trojans for cybercrime.”

The APWG reports that February and March 2012 sustained an all-time high of 392 brands targeted by phishers. This was an 8 percent increase from the previous all-time high of 362, recorded in December 2011. The previous high before December was 356, reached in October 2009.

Meanwhile, the number of unique phishing sites detected in a single month by the APWG reached 56,859 in February, which was an all-time high. The February figure eclipsed the previous record high of 56,362, which was recorded in August 2009, by almost 1 percent.

In the first three months of 2012, PandaLabs identified more than six million unique malware samples. Most of the infections were caused by Trojans (80 percent of all new malware samples), setting a new record high. According to Luis Corrons, PandaLabs Technical Director and APWG Trends Report contributing analyst, “This demonstrates that massive worm epidemics have become a thing of the past, and have been replaced by a silent Trojan invasion.”

Notable findings from the APWG report:

  • During the quarter, USA remained the top nation for hosting phishing-based Trojans, and Azerbaijan cracked the top 10 for the first time ever, in March 2012
  • The average number of infected PCs across the globe stands at 35.51 percent, which is more than three percentage points lower than in 2011
  • China continues to be the most affected country (with 54.10 percent of infected PCs), and remains the only country with an infection ratio over 50 percent
  • Brand-Domain Pairs Measurement is up across the board with one of the biggest increases ever seen in a single quarter
  • In the first three months of 2012, more than six million unique malware samples were identified
  • Financial Services continued to be the most-targeted industry sector in the first quarter of 2012
  • Sweden set a new hygienic record with the lowest percentage of PCs infected by malware, with less than 18 percent of its computers so affected.