E-mail fraud and phishing scams grew by more than 50% in January, with an average of 5.7 new, unique attacks sent out to millions of consumers each day.
In January, there were 176 new, unique phishing attacks reported to the Anti-Phishing Working Group (APWG), a consortium founded late last year by Tumbleweed Communications and a number of financial services institutions and e-commerce providers.
The company most targeted by the fraudsters was online auctioneer eBay with the most targeted industry sector being financial services. Citibank was the second most attacked company in January with 35 scams hijacking its brand.
Eight per cent of the reported phishing schemes took advantage of the recently patched Microsoft IE browser vulnerability that allows Web site addresses to be disguised.
Dave Jevans, chairman of the group and an SVP at Tumbleweed Communications, says: "Even the most sophisticated user of the Internet will be hard-pressed to distinguish these fraudulent 'phishing' e-mails and Web sites from legitimate business communications. The spam epidemic has evolved from a nuisance to a real security threat with this shift to financial crime and identity theft."
The APWG warns that scams designed to fool recipients into downloading keyloggers and other Trojan programmes represent an emerging threat, and illustrate the growing sophistication of the fraudsters.