Follow Us

We use cookies to provide you with a better experience. If you continue to use this site, we'll assume you're happy with this. Alternatively, click here to find out how to manage these cookies

hide cookie message

Phishing messages fall markedly in 2013 despite better targetting

‘Invitation to connect on LinkedIn’ the top lure

Article comments

Criminals are sending markedly fewer phishing emails than a year ago but they are now being more skilfully targeted, an end-of-year report by security firm Websense has found.

According to Websense, phishing volumes have continued their journey downwards of recent years, falling to 0.5 percent of all email in 2013 from 1.12 percent the year before.

Although good news on the face of it, when it comes to any measurement of security there is always a rub and in this case it is the rise of plausible subject lines capable of tricking users into opening attachments or links.

The three top ones experienced by Websense (which sells email filtering gateways) were ‘Invitation to connect on LinkedIn’, ‘Mail delivery failed: returning message to sender’, ‘Dear customer <insert bank name here>’, ‘Comunicazione importante’, and ‘Undelivered Mail Returned to Sender’.

As the criminals know, these subject lines are difficult to filter using subject lines alone because that would risk trapping legitimate messages. If sent from legitimate domains (for example Gmail) they are also harder to block using reputation technology.

And years on from its appearance, the uncomfortable fact is that phishing still works as long as it is sufficiently targeted or appears to come from a legitimate individual as numerous stories about Advanced Persistent Threat (APTs) launched using the medium underline.

“Cybercriminals aren’t simply throwing millions of emails over the fence. They are instead targeting their attack strategies with sophisticated techniques and integrating social engineering tactics. Scammers use social networks to conduct their recon and research their prey,” said Websense.

The firm also published some data on the countries most often used to host phishing URLs although it’s not clear that this is particularly significant. For the record, China was top, followed by the US, Germany, the UK, Canada, Russia, France, Hong Kong, The Netherlands and Brazil.

This most likely reflects the availability of compromised hosts rather than reflecting badly on those countries in particular.

Not all phishing requires email to carry its message; a recent study noted the still-popular tendency to register typo domains (domains that are close mis-spellings of famous brands), using them to host phishing sites. These are usually found inadvertently from the address bar.

What doesn’t seem to be in doubt is that criminals are sending out fewer phishing emails. An analysis by the Anti-Phishing Working Group (APWG) recorded a significant drop in the number of campaigns detected during 2013. This was probably because criminals were using their servers for other activities such as DDoS attacks.


More from Techworld

More relevant IT news


Send to a friend

Email this article to a friend or colleague:

PLEASE NOTE: Your name is used only to let the recipient know who sent the story, and in case of transmission error. Both your name and the recipient's name and address will not be used for any other purpose.

Techworld White Papers

Choose – and Choose Wisely – the Right MSP for Your SMB

End users need a technology partner that provides transparency, enables productivity, delivers...

Download Whitepaper

10 Effective Habits of Indispensable IT Departments

It’s no secret that responsibilities are growing while budgets continue to shrink. Download this...

Download Whitepaper

Gartner Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Information Archiving

Enterprise information archiving is contributing to organisational needs for e-discovery and...

Download Whitepaper

Advancing the state of virtualised backups

Dell Software’s vRanger is a veteran of the virtualisation specific backup market. It was the...

Download Whitepaper

Techworld UK - Technology - Business

Innovation, productivity, agility and profit

Watch this on demand webinar which explores IT innovation, managed print services and business agility.

Techworld Mobile Site

Access Techworld's content on the move

Get the latest news, product reviews and downloads on your mobile device with Techworld's mobile site.

Find out more...

From Wow to How : Making mobile and cloud work for you

On demand Biztech Briefing - Learn how to effectively deliver mobile work styles and cloud services together.

Watch now...

Site Map

* *