The number of phishing attacks on financial services customers has increased dramatically this year, with fraudsters focusing on three banks whose customers they have judged to be particularly vulnerable, says a security report.
Financial services customers were exposed to 60,000 phishing e-mails in February 2008 alone, according to the Quarterly Fraud Report from online brand monitoring specialist NetNames.
The report showed a 70% rise in phishing attacks between December 2007 and February 2008, which followed a dramatic dip in the latter half of 2007 after the phishing highs of early last year.
"Consumers may have been under the impression that the threat had gone away," said a NetNames spokesman.
The report did not provide any evidence that more consumers were being conned, however.
But it did identify that certain banks were being targeted, with the customers of three particular banks accounting for the vast majority of phishing attacks. According to the report, 77% of all phishing e-mails in December were targeted at those three banks. This grew to 79% in January and 88% in February.
NetNames did not name the banks.
"Just as phishing seemed to have slipped off the consumer radar, online fraudsters have leapt on the chance to capitalise on this false sense of security and have increased their phishing activity drastically in the past few months," said Jonathan Robinson, chief operating officer of NetNames. "Consumers must be aware of this renewed and increasing threat and make sure they never give out personal details over e-mail."
He added, "It is also crucial for the reputation of financial services organisations that they make their customers aware of these threats and help protect them."