China emerges as phishing super power

China is emerging as the new super power for cyber-criminality, according to security companies.

Spam specialist Marshal claims the People's Republic has become the number one source of phishing email in the past week, rising ten places.

The sudden surge in phishing out of China has pushed levels to their highest since July, claims the company, a threefold increase over the average for the past six months.

China now accounts for 18 per cent of phishing email, followed by South Korea with around 17 per cent.

Barely a week ago phishing email accounted for less than half a per cent of spam, but the recent Asian surge has shown a dramatic rise to more than 2 per cent currently.

China phishing mail targets financial institutions, such as Fifth Third Bank, National Australia Bank and Bendigo Bank.

DDoS attacks are also increasingly being orchestrated out of China.

Keith Laslop, president of DDoS mitigation company Prolexic, described it as "like the Wild West."

He said that he had never seen so much activity as in recent weeks and that attacks were increasingly small but targeted. As well as hitting the likes of the gambling industry, he also described a small online shop selling Italian charm bracelets that was hit by a series of DDoS attacks in the days following the emergence of a rival in China.

The numbers alone paint a worrying picture.

Symantec's figures for the first half of 2006 showed that five of the ten cities housing the most bot-infected computers - which are commandeered to launch these attacks - are in China.

Beijing and Guangzhou are the top two, and on a country basis, China, with 20 per cent, has the most bot-infected computers in the world.

"China is a country of thriving business, and not just legal ones," said Alex Kurz, technical director for Europe Middle East and Africa (EMEA), for Marshal.