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Commtouch Shares Important Highlights of Phishing Trends

Internet security company 'Commtouch' in its new Threat Trends Report (Q3-2009) highlights some interesting facts about the phishing trends seen so far in 2009.

While IBM and Symantec said that phishing attacks had declined during Q2-2009, MarkMonitor and McAfee reported the opposite (rise in attacks). As the debate over phishing ran hot, Commtouch Labs analyzed its members' different data of phishing assaults and found that data analysis methods straight away decided the outcomes.

According to the company, while certain firms indicated increases in phishing incidents, others showed a constant fall but Commtouch attributed these differences essentially to variations in analysis methodology.

John LaCour, President of PhishLabs, a security partner agency of Commtouch, suggested that there should be a universal definition of a phishing attempt. For instance, he asked, when phishing was hosted on fast-flux botnets, the assault counted for all the compromised bots' IP addresses, all the distinct URLs, or all the domain names, which were fluxing during the assault, as reported by The Tech Herald on October 21, 2009.

Security analysts at Commtouch stated that it wasn't just the aggregate number of assaults, but also the level of finesse (sophistication) that accompanied the assaults while assessing phishing data. Small scale personalized attacks could result in greater financial damage compared to the less advanced bigger attacks.

More findings of the Threat Trends Report reveal that the volume of malicious spam accounted for 83% on average of the total electronic mails during Q3-2009, reaching a peak of 97% (July 2009) and a low of 71% (August 2009).

Malware spreading through e-mails, which eluded conventional virus scanning engines, spiked at intervals of 11-13 days during mid-August-September 2009, with Mal Behav-340 and Mal-Bredo-A dominating and distributing around 10,000 variants. Further, the use of economic downturn along with the US debate over reforms in healthcare in recent spam campaigns are additional highlights of the report.

Finally, websites related to 'sex education' and 'health and medicine' were the top targets during phishing, and Brazil was still the most zombie producing country, contributing 19.7% of the related worldwide activity, according to Commtouch.

Related article: Commtouch Releases its Latest Report on Trends of E-Mail Threats

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