Survey shows record number of phishing attacks in a decade

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According to an Atlas VPN investigation, Google detected a record-high number of phishing websites last year, reaching more than 2.11 million.  The year 2020 was a roller coaster ride. With people shifting to remote work due to the pandemic, cyber criminals saw this as an opportunity and became more active than ever.

“These websites pretend to be legitimate so that they can trick users into typing in their usernames and passwords or sharing other private information. Web pages that impersonate legitimate bank websites or online stores are common examples of phishing sites.”, explains Google’s Transparency Report.

In 2020, phishing sites jumped to 2.11 million, constituting a 25% growth over 2019, when the tech giant discovered 1.69 million malicious domains.

Moving back to 2010, Google detected an average of 317 dangerous sites per day. Last year, the number jumped to 5789 websites per day, representing a 1726% surge in a decade.

Looking at the last decade year-by-year, Atlas VPN says that the volume of phishing portals grew by 43% on average.

Dissecting phishing sites in 2020

Last year, many headlines were dominated by the ever-increasing number of data breaches, privacy concerns, and other cyber security issues. Atlas VPN looked at the year 2020 in detail to determine when threat actors were the most active, and the findings were as follows:

Data indicates that fraudsters were the most active around the middle of February as well as the start of May 2020. On those dates, Google tracked down over 56,000 new malicious sites per week.

The second half of 2020 was a bit more stable, with phishing site discoveries hovering around 44 thousand per week. All in all, Google detected an average of over 40 thousand phishing sites every week in 2020.

The Covid-19 pandemic definitely created more attack vectors for scammers. Panic leads to irrational thinking, and people forget basic security steps online. Users then download malicious files or try to purchase in-demand items from unsafe websites, in result becoming victims of a scam.

On the other hand, data unveils the fact that the volume of phishing sites was growing even before people shifted towards remote work.

Rachel Welch, COO of Atlas VPN, shares her insights about the ever-increasing volume of phishing websites: “The pandemic definitely aggravated the issue, but data indicates that cyber criminals have been ramping up their efforts for the better part of the decade.“


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