Phishing attacks have soared as a result of the re-emergence of the Avalanche gang , according to Internet Identity, a Tacoma, Wash.-based Internet security specialist.
IID said websites infected with malware increased 89% in the third quarter of 2011 from the second quarter, mostly because of a renewal of activity from the Avalanche phishing gang, which IID blamed for two-thirds of all phishing attacks in the second half of 2009.
Traditional phishing attacks, those using e-mails to trick recipients into logging in and giving up identifying information, are actually down, but malware that infects websites have soared, the company said in its Third Quarter eCrime Report.
The most impersonated organizations, IID said, include the FDIC, Federal Reserve, IRS and NACHA. Malware, once on a victim’s computer, can monitor or control activity, steal data, send spam and commit fraud.
“We knew Avalanche would resurface, and it is apparent that they have made a conscious decision to provide their massive botnet as an infrastructure for hire. The most prevalent use of their network is sites that attempt to get victims to install malware,” said Rod Rasmussen, IID president.
Once malware is on a victim’s computer, the perpetrator can monitor or control both personal and business computer activity — enabling them to steal data, send spam, and commit fraud.
Criminals lure people in by creating appealing websites, desirable downloads and compelling stories, then trap unsuspecting victims, often through “drive-by” websites where malware automatically installs, Rasmussen said.
Money transfer and e-commerce phishing showed the largest areas of decline while phishing attacks impersonating national banks stayed strong, IID said.
“Cybercriminals are always trying to adapt to the latest security methods and threat awareness, and as an industry we must stay one step ahead of these increasingly sophisticated cyber gangs,” said Rasmussen, who said IID’s reports are drawn from his company’s experts as well as organizations such as the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers and the Anti-Phishing Working Group.