Earlier this year, the number of active phishing websites detected was at an all-time high. Phishing websites trick users into providing personal information like credit card numbers and social security numbers. A report by the Anti-Phishing Working Group noted that 56,859 such sites were detected in February 2012, which beat the record high cited in August 2009 by almost 1 percent. Students earning a cyber crime degree or online cyber crime degree should be sure they are keeping up with technology and malware and hacking trends.
The report by APWG states that February and March 2012 ranked as the all-time high recorded number of brands targeted by phishers at 392. The number beat out the previous record high of 362 sites, a 8 percent increase recorded in December 2011. The majority of the sites were hosted within the United States and because of increased security technologies, the sites are being taken down more quickly than ever.
Phishers are able to trick users because they use brand names in the URL that people are familiar with, and to the untrained eye, the website seems legitimate. About half of the sites found in the first quarter of 2012 used a brand name, and about 38 percent of the websites claimed to be financial institutions. Other sites claimed to be payment services, retailers and other service websites that would require users to enter their credit card numbers. Officials say 392 brands were made up.
“The reach and ambition of cybercrime gangs advances apace today, a decade on from when the first phishing attacks were reported,” APWG Secretary Peter Cassidy said. “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.”
In the first quarter of 2012, the U.S. was the top nation that hosted phishing websites, but China was the country most affected by the crime with a infection rate of 54.1 percent of all computers. China is the only country with a rate higher than 50 percent, the U.S. is at 35.5 percent.
Since so many transactions happen online today, it is much easier for phishers to succeed. With an education in cyber crime, a graduate will learn how to catch an online scammer, identity thieves and phishers. The high specialization required to make it in the tough industry can be achieved to catch cyber criminals of all kinds.