Security Market Segment LS
Wednesday, 07 December 2016 09:42

Google targeted in phishing attempts: report

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A little more than a fifth of phishing threats in the first nine months of this year targeted Google, according to data from the security company Webroot.

In its latest quarterly report, the company said this targeting of Google was in line with the trend of phishing attempts moving away from dedicated domains and instead targeting what could be termed benign domains.

Other domains targeted by a sizeable number of phishing attempts were Apple, Yahoo! and PayPal.

The report said that this year an average of more than 400,000 phishing attempts had been recorded every month for the first nine months.

But in a major change from the past, phishing sites did not stay alive too long; 84% existed for less than 24 hours.

"Our data shows that a phishing site can last for as little as 15 minutes,” said Hal Lonas, chief technology officer for Webroot. "In years past, these sites could endure for several weeks or months, giving organisations plenty of time to block the method of attack and prevent more victims from falling prey.

"Now, phishing sites appear and disappear in the span of a coffee break, leaving every organisation, no matter its size, at an immediate and serious risk from phishing attacks."

There had been about 13,000 new phishing sites every day, he added.

The main findings from the report:

  • To keep up with the incredibly short phishing life cycles and sheer volume of phishing sites and URLs, old techniques that use static or crowd-sourced blacklists of bad domains and URLs must be abandoned.
  • Nearly all phishing URLs were hidden within benign domains. URLs now must be checked each time they are requested because a page that was non-threatening just seconds ago may have since been compromised.
  • Google, PayPal, Yahoo! and Apple are heavily targeted for phishing attacks. Google was the most heavily targeted of these "high-risk" organisations, with 21% of all phishing sites between January and September 2016 impersonating the company.

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Sam Varghese

Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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