Over 75% of all phishing e-mails are targeting users of online payments system PayPal or its parent company eBay, according to research by IT security firm Sophos.
Sophos says its security experts scanned all phishing e-mail messages received in the company's global network of spam traps during 2006 and found that 54.3% were attempting to steal information from PayPal customers. The second most common targets, at 20.9%, were users of the eBay online auction service.
Commenting on the findings, Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at Sophos, says: "The reason why the phishers focus so much on PayPal and eBay is because they are so popular around the world. Although bank customers do also suffer from phishing attacks, they tend to be less likely to have the global reach that these net giants have."
In November last year the leader of a UK gang that stole nearly £200,000 from customers in an eBay phishing scam was jailed for four years. David Levi, 29, is thought to be the first person in the UK to be convicted of phishing.
The gang tricked eBay traders into disclosing passwords and account details by sending scam e-mails pretending to be from California-based eBay.