By using a large dataset of more than 250,000 phishing attacks detected in 2015 and 2016, APWG quantified cybercrime activity and understanding the patterns that lurk therein. They have learned more about what phishers have been doing, and how they have accomplished their schemes.
APWG counted 679 unique target institutions during 2016, down about 12% from the 783 that they found in 2015. However, phishers are still creating phishing kits dedicated to attacking both popular targets and new targets! Phishers continued to attack popular targets PayPal, Yahoo!, Apple, and Taobao.com heavily. However, a brand can become a target at any time.
The phishers are looking for :
- The companies that have potentially lucrative user bases,
- The companies that are newly popular,
- The companies that are not ready to respond to phishing attacks.
If a site takes in personal data, then there may be phishers who want to exploit it. There were 64,688 phishing sites targeting 79 different Chinese brands, representing 25% of all phishing attacks observed in 2016. Attacks on Chinese targets hit all sectors, from e-commerce giant Taobao to a plethora of Chinese banks and securities companies. The 2016 target list featured many banks, including a notable list of banks in Latin America, but also throughout Europe, Southeast Asia, the Middle East, and most large North American institutions.
There were several targets in non-traditional sectors :
- The major universities in Switzerland
- Television stations throughout the world
- Energy companies
- Government agencies
Overall, phishing still targeted the primary industry sectors:
- Financial Institutions,
- Social Networking,
- Money Transfer Companies.