There has been a notable escalation in phishing attacks in 2016, according to a new report from the Anti-Phishing Working Group (APWG). It noted that there have been more phishing attacks during the the first quarter of this year, “than at any other time in history”.
There was a huge spike in phishing activity between October 2015 and March 2016, with incidents rising by a massive 250%, the study highlighted.
“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,” commented Greg Aaron, a senior research fellow at APWG and vice-president of the iThreat Cyber Group.
“The sustained increase into 2016 shows phishers launching more sites, and is cause for concern.”
Phishing is a tactic used by cybercriminals and fraudsters to secure sensitive information from people. Deceptive emails, texts and instant messaging alerts – to name but a few – are sent to potential victims encouraging them to hand over their data.
The fraudulent messaging often looks and sounds authentic. Interestingly, as the authors of the paper state, phishing attacks are increasingly more aggressive. For example, keyloggers have been a notable feature in attacks in 2016, used to “target specific information and organizations”.
The authors of the report also touched upon the growing threat posed by ransomware. As with phishing, the attacks have demonstrated a more aggressive streak.
“The threat space continues to expand despite the best efforts of industry, government and law enforcement,” observed Peter Cassidy, co-founder and secretary general of the APWG.