We’ve just released our February threat stats, which show that there has been a massive drop in the number of phishing attacks (17.86 per cent down from 55.59 per cent in January). It’s common for phishing to decline after the Christmas high point, but it took its time to do so this year, remaining high throughout January.

This may be an indication of the changing tactics used by phishers. Traditionally, big events such as Christmas and Valentines Day have been targeted – previously malware distributors would have sent these links in emails, now we are seeing more attacks launched via social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook. Attackers are also using the nature of the conversation on these platforms to work in their favour. People love to share breaking celebrity news over these networks, and want to know the latest developments in the story, this is and ideal environment for malware to flourish.

What this means in practice is that rather than seeing the usual peaks and troughs over the year, we may start to see fluctuating phishing and spam levels depending on the nature and number of major news stories. This results in peak levels of malware around these stories, as well as around the more ‘traditional’ peak times. Now spammers and phishers have the ability to catch people out over many different platforms, using a variety of tactics. The most recent Twitter attack caught out politicians, Intel and a tech blogger.  It just goes to show you, anyone can be caught out by these scams if they’re not careful.