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Jan 2nd, 1996 — A Fresh Look at Some Alarming Phishing Statistics

Key Points:

  • Phishing has been around since the beginning of the internet.
  • According to internet records, the term phishing was first coined on 2nd Jan, 1996 in a newsgroup called AOHell.
  • The first method phishers used to deploy attacks was stealing users’ passwords and using algorithms to create randomized credit card numbers to create fake AOL accounts. AOL improved its security and stopped the attackers.
  • After the shutdown, phishers created enduring techniques using AOL instant messenger and email system to send people messages posing as AOL employees.
  • Phishing evolved in many ways, and today attackers are riding a huge wave of successful attacks worth billions of dollars.

Phishing has been around since the early days of the internet. Records say the first time the term phishing was used and recorded was January 2nd, 1996. The mention occurred in a Usenet newsgroup called AOHell.

Phishing evolved into a dreadful cybersecurity menace that threatens to cost vulnerable businesses a fortune. Yearly, the world loses billions of dollars to phishing, and millions of people get their personal information compromised.

Let’s go back to the beginning to understand phishing better.

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The Evolution of Phishing Since Its Inception

The attacker developed the first phishing technique in the Usenet newsgroup called AOHell. The threat’s first rumbling took place on America Online (AOL). AOL was the world’s first internet access provider, where millions of people logged into their services daily.

The first technique phishers used to deploy attacks was stealing people’s passwords and creating randomized credit cards to open AOL accounts. They would use fake AOL accounts to spam other users.  AOL later upgraded its security and prevented further attacks.

After the shutdown, phishers started to create enduring techniques — using the AOL email systems and instant messenger to scam people posing to be AOL employees.

The 2021 Phishing Statistics

In many ways, phishing hasn’t changed much since its inception. However, targeting has advanced to launching ransomware on the victim device.

Here are some 2021 phishing statistics that can help you weigh the evolution of phishing:

  • In 2021 alone, attackers sent over 3.4 billion phishing emails every day (EarthWeb)
  • Cybercriminals create over 1.3 million websites in 2021 to deploy phishing attacks on businesses (Statista)
  • If you’re a small business, you’re a big target of phishing attacks.  Statistics say that the largest target audience for phishing emails are businesses with 1-250 employees. For every 323 emails produced, one was a phish for a small business. Small businesses have the highest attacks type of businesses. (Forbes)
  • 91% of all cyber attacks that occurred towards a business started in the aspect of phishing attacks through email (Deloitte)
  • 25% of all emails sent out as phish are attackers impersonating a brand. The most common brand that people fake and intimidate is Microsoft at 43% (SC Magazine)
  • Less than 65% of all employees can recognize what phishing email looks like. While the phishing statistics are on the rise, a huge audience — two out of three employees — cannot identify a phishing email (CompariTech)

How Businesses Can Fight The Menace of Phishing Attacks

The best way businesses can fight phishing is to train employees and stakeholders on identifying and dealing with phishing emails. Everyone in your team needs to keep an eye on phishing.

You have a formidable task of investing in employees and helping them become more knowledgeable about phishing. Criminals are targeting unsuspecting team members as a getaway. You need to train your team regularly about phishing attacks to ensure you have no weak link.

Colorado Computer Support Can Help Your Business Combat Phishing

Educating and training employees and stakeholders about cybersecurity minimizes the chances of phishing attacks. You need to highlight the consequences of phishing attacks.

Our experts at Colorado Computer Support can help your business build a culture of security awareness within your organization. Contact us today for proactive cybersecurity management and security training.

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