Nearly one-third of phishing attacks launched by hackers last year were targeted at stealing cash, according to Kasperky Lab.
The attacks created websites that mimicked organisations including top banks, online stores and e-payment systems, a new Kaspersky report revealed.
According to the ‘Financial cyber threats in 2013’ study, banks were most attractive targets, being used in about 70% of all financial phishing, with bogus bank websites being involved in twice as many phishing attacks during the year.
Kaspersky Lab senior security researcher Sergey Lozhkin said that phishing attacks are so popular because they are simple to deploy and extremely effective.
"It is often not easy for even advanced Internet users to distinguish a well-designed fraudulent site from a legitimate page, which makes it even more important to install a specialised protection solution," Lozhkin said.
"In addition, phishing causes reputational and financial damage to organisations that see their brands exploited in phishing attacks."
The report added that 88% of phishing attacks on e-payment systems involved one of four international brands including PayPal, Master Card, American Express, and Visa, while 60% of overall phishing attacks using fake bank pages made use of the names of about 25 organisations.
Kaspersky noted that online retailer Amazon has been the most popular cover for phishing attacks exploiting the brands of online stores, being used in 61% of online trade-related phishing attacks, followed by Apple and eBay.