Significant rise in Chinese phishing sites

Posted by   Virus Bulletin on   Nov 10, 2011

Phishers shown to care little about domain names.

In its latest 'Global Phishing Survey', the Anti-Phishing Working Group (APWG) reports a significant increase in phishing sites targeting Chinese Internet users.

The report mentions 112,000 different phishing attacks in the first six months of 2011, compared to just 42,000 in the previous six months. This rise can almost entirely be contributed to a significant increase in Chinese phishing attacks, targeting Chinese banks and websites.

The attacks made use of over 79,000 different domain names, but only 18% of these had been specifically registered by the phishers. The others domains were legitimate websites that had been compromised.

One interesting thing to note is that only 2% of the domain names used are related to the targeted organisations. This suggests that phishers believe a legitimate-looking domain name will help little to add credibility to the site.

This can also be seen from the fact that barely any homograph attacks have been seen. Homographs are different characters that are different but look very alike; examples are the letter o and the Greek omicron (ο), or the letter a and its accented version á.

The introduction of Internationalized Domain Names (IDNs) allows for these characters to be used in domain names. Experts have warned that this would allow criminals to register domain names looking very much like those of their targets. However, the fact that only two such domains have been used in phishing attacks since January 2007 shows once again that phishers care little about the domain names they use.

The full report can be downloaded as a PDF here; more on the APWG on its website here.

Posted on 10 November 2011 by Virus Bulletin

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