Feeds

Single group did 66% of world's phishing

Avalanche of attacks

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

A single criminal operation was responsible for two-thirds of all phishing attacks in the second half of 2009 and is responsible for a two-fold increase in the crime, a report published this week said.

The Avalanche gang is believed to have risen out of the ashes of the Rock Phish outfit, which by some estimates was responsible for half the world's phishing attacks before fizzling out in late 2008. Driving the success of both groups is their use of state-of-the-art technology for mass-producing imposter websites and distributing huge amounts of crimeware for automating identity theft.

"Avalanche uses the Rock's techniques but improved upon them, introducing greater volume and sophistication," the report, released by the Anti-Phishing Working Group, stated.

Central to Avalanche's success is its use of fast-flux botnets to host phishing sites. The use of peer-to-peer communications makes it impossible for a single ISP or hosting provider to to pull the plug on the infrastructure. The gang also excels at launching attacks from a relatively small number of domain names that often appear confusingly identical to each other, such as 11f1iili.com and 11t1jtiil.com. Those abilities also fuel the success.

There were 126,697 phishing attacks during the second half of 2009, more than double the number in the first half of the year or from July through December of 2008, the APWG report said. Avalanche, which was first identified in December of 2008, was responsible for 24 percent of phishing attacks in the first half of 2009 and for 66 percent in the second half. From July through the end of the year, Avalanche targeted the more than 40 major financial institutions, online services, and job search providers.

Curiously, Avalanche may turn out to be a victim of its own success.

"During an Avalanche campaign, it was not unusual for the target institutions, the relevant domain name registrar(s), a domain name registry, and other responders and service providers to all be aware of the campaign and working on mitigation at the same time," the report stated. "As a result, Avalanche attacks had a much shorter average uptime than non-Avalanche phishing attacks, and community efforts partially neutralized the advantage of the fast-flux hosting."

White hats briefly shut down the Avalanche infrastructure in mid November, and ever since then phishing attacks generated by the group have dropped precipitously. Last month, the gang launched just 59 attacks, each one with a separate domain.

A PDF of the report is here. ®

Protecting users from Firesheep and other Sidejacking attacks with SSL

More from The Register

next story
Spies would need SUPER POWERS to tap undersea cables
Why mess with armoured 10kV cables when land-based, and legal, snoop tools are easier?
Early result from Scots indyref vote? NAW, Jimmy - it's a SCAM
Anyone claiming to know before tomorrow is telling porkies
Apple Pay is a tidy payday for Apple with 0.15% cut, sources say
Cupertino slurps 15 cents from every $100 purchase
Israeli spies rebel over mass-snooping on innocent Palestinians
'Disciplinary treatment will be sharp and clear' vow spy-chiefs
YouTube, Amazon and Yahoo! caught in malvertising mess
Cisco says 'Kyle and Stan' attack is spreading through compromised ad networks
Hackers pop Brazil newspaper to root home routers
Step One: try default passwords. Step Two: Repeat Step One until success
China hacked US Army transport orgs TWENTY TIMES in ONE YEAR
FBI et al knew of nine hacks - but didn't tell TRANSCOM
Microsoft to patch ASP.NET mess even if you don't
We know what's good for you, because we made the mess says Redmond
NORKS ban Wi-Fi and satellite internet at embassies
Crackdown on tardy diplomatic sysadmins providing accidental unfiltered internet access
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
Protecting users from Firesheep and other Sidejacking attacks with SSL
Discussing the vulnerabilities inherent in Wi-Fi networks, and how using TLS/SSL for your entire site will assure security.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.