White Paper

Quarterly Threat Trends: Phishing Attacks Growing In Scale And Sophistication

Security Training

The last several years have seen a dramatic evolution in the sophistication of phishing attacks. While antiquated phishing tactics consisted of crudely constructed mass emails trying to snare as many victims as possible, today’s attacks are highly targeted, difficult to detect, and just as difficult to evade. Even more important, they’re pervasive.

According to the latest Webroot data, an average of 1.385 million unique phishing sites are created each month, with an astonishing high of 2.3 million in May of 2017. The vast majority of phishing sites use domains associated with benign activity, tricking users into thinking they are clicking through to legitimate sites and increasing the likelihood that the attacker will succeed.

Phishing attacks are the number one cause of breaches, and are a growing threat to organizations around the world. According to an FBI Public Service Announcement from May 4, 2017, phishing scams have cost American business nearly $500 million a year over a three year period between October 2013 and December 2016.

Phishing emails see increased impact by using social media to tailor their attacks to the individual target—sometimes even senior executives—with messages that are likely to resonate with the individual. They employ remarkably realistic web pages that are difficult, if not impossible, to find using web crawlers. They trick victims into providing credentials that can compromise their accounts, then access other accounts where credentials have been re-used.

This report provides details on recent and recurring trends to help you provide accurate detection and prevention of phishing attacks, and gain deeper insight into the characteristics of attacks to prevent future harm. Analysis of data collected and tracked by the Webroot Threat Intelligence Platform and BrightCloud® Real-Time Anti-Phishing Service form the basis for the data presented in this report.