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Microsoft Cloud Authors: Adine Deford, Elizabeth White, the Editor, Michael Krems, Xenia von Wedel

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APWG Report: Phishing Levels Remain High, and Increasingly Supplemented by Malware Attacks

The APWG reports in its Q3 2012 Phishing Activity Trends Report that there was a constant decline in the number of traditional phishing websites through September 2012, counterfeits usually impersonating well-known financial services companies or other brands. This is a return to historical levels after a period of especially high activity, pointing up an increase in crimeware-based attacks.

The APWG received reports of 30,955 unique phishing sites in July -- 24 percent lower than the all-time high of 40,621 reports recorded in August 2009. The number of unique phishing e-mail reports (campaigns) received by APWG from consumers dropped from 33,464 in May to 21,684 in September, a decline of 35 percent.

Ihab Shraim, Chief Information Security Officer and VP, Anti-Fraud Engineering & Operations at MarkMonitor and a Trends Report ascribed the decline to the use of other fraudulent techniques, such as malware attack vectors. "However, it is unlikely that traditional phishing will stop since the cost of producing a phishing attack is almost insignificant," he said. "Also, the decline is not universal across all brands."

"Some professional phishers have moved from perpetrating mass phishing campaigns to exploit-style malware attacks," said Rod Rasmussen, President and CTO of Internet Identity and a report contributor. "These don’t show up as traditional phishing attacks. If anything, there are probably more "lures" of all types being generated, but with the destination being an exploit site with a drive-by download that infects users directly with malware, rather than a phishing site that attempts to steal credentials via social engineering."

The full text of the report is available here: http://www.apwg.org/download/document/84/apwg_trends_report_q3_2012.pdf

Other highlights of the Q3 2012 report include:

* China is back to being the top ranking country most infected by malware

* July 2012 saw 428 brands targeted by phishers, tying the all-time-high observed in April 2012. The number of brands attacked then declined. APWG members report that smaller institutions such as credit unions are being targeted less frequently.

* China is back to being the top ranking country most infected by malware

* Financial Services continued to be the most-targeted industry sector in the third quarter of 2012.

About the APWG

The APWG, founded in 2003 as the Anti-Phishing Working Group, is the global industry, law enforcement, and government coalition focused on unifying the global response to electronic crime. Membership is open to qualified financial institutions, online retailers, ISPs and Telcos, the law enforcement community, solutions providers, multi-lateral treaty organizations, research centers, trade associations and government agencies. There are more than 2,000 companies, government agencies and NGOs participating in the APWG worldwide. The APWG's www.apwg.org and education.apwg.org websites offer the public, industry and government agencies practical information about phishing and electronically mediated fraud as well as pointers to pragmatic technical solutions that provide immediate protection. The APWG is co-founder and co-manager of the Stop. Think. Connect. Messaging Convention, the global online safety public awareness collaborative www.stopthinkconnect.org and founder/curator of the eCrime Researchers Summit, the worldís only peer-reviewed conference dedicated specifically to electronic crime studies www.ecrimeresearch.org.

Among APWG's corporate sponsors are as follows: Afilias Ltd., AhnLab, AT&T(T), Avast!, AVG Technologies, BBN Technologies, Barracuda Networks, BillMeLater, Bkav, Booz Allen Hamilton, Blue Coat, BrandMail, BrandProtect, Bsecure Technologies, Check Point Software Technologies, Comcast, CSIRTBANELCO, Cyber Defender, Cyveillance, Domain Tools, Donuts.co, Easy Solutions, eBay/PayPal (EBAY), eCert, EC Cert, ESET, EST Soft, Facebook, Fortinet, FraudWatch International, F-Secure, GlobalSign, GoDaddy, Google, GroupIB, Hauri, Hitachi Systems, Ltd., Huawei Symantec, ICANN, Iconix, IID, IronPort, ING Bank, Intuit, IT Matrix, Kindsight, LaCaixa, Lenos Software, MailShell, MarkMonitor, M86Security, McAfee (MFE), Melbourne IT, MessageLevel, Microsoft (MSFT), MicroWorld, Mirapoint, NHN, MyPW, nProtect Online Security, Netcraft, Network Solutions, NeuStar, Nominet, Nominum, Public Interest Registry, Panda Software, Phishlabs, Phishme.com, Phorm, Planty.net, Prevx, Proofpoint, QinetiQ, Return Path, RSA Security (EMC), RuleSpace, SAIC (From Science to Solutions), SalesForce, SecureBrain, S21sec, SIDN, SoftForum, SoftLayer, SoftSecurity, SOPHOS, SunTrust, SurfControl, Symantec (SYMC), Tagged, TDS Telecom, Telefonica (TEF), TransCreditBank, Trend Micro (TMIC), Vasco (VDSI), VeriSign (VRSN), Websense Inc. (WBSN), Wombat Security Technologies, Yahoo! (YHOO), zvelo and ZYNGA.

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