The number of active phishing Web sites more than doubled in October according to the Anti-Phishing Workgroup (APWG) as fraudsters switch to using automated tools to launch attacks.
According to the report, the number of bogus phishing sites rose from 543 sites in September to 1142 in October. The study also shows that between July and October, the number of scam sites grew by a monthly growth rate of 25%.
APWG says the sudden large spike in October may indicate that criminals are using automatic tools and botnets to launch phishing attacks. Furthermore, the research shows that the number of bogus sites hosted on compromised broadband PCs has risen to more than 50%.
In October, there were 6597 new, unique phishing e-mail messages reported to the APWG, over three times the number of unique reports received in August (2158).
Financial services continues to be the most targeted industry sector, with the most unique baiting sites in October, as well as the most targeted companies.
A separate study by Internet monitoring firm Envisional shows that phishing attacks against financial services companies rose a massive 568% between June and October this year. The research shows an increase in both the number of firms targeted and the volume of phishing spam. The average number of banks hit each day rose to five in October from 2.6 in June.
At a conference in London yesterday Det Chief Supt Ken Farrow, head of the City of London Police's economic crime department, told of how criminals came close to stealing £175m from a London-based bank last week. According to a report by the FT, Farrow said the robbery was prevented only by a "quirk" in the bank's internal systems.