The IT security company Kaspersky Lab has warned about increasing phishing attacks, of which Vietnam ranks among the top five countries being targeted.
The number of Internet users who faced online phishing scams over the last 12 months has grown from 19.9 million to 37.3 million, an increase of 87 percent, according to survey entitled "The Evolution of Phishing Attacks 2011-2013," conducted by the Moscow-based company.
The study, which was carried out in June 2013 based on data from the Kaspersky Security Network cloud service, shows that what was once considered a mere subset of spam has evolved into a rapidly growing cyber threat of its own.
Phishing is a form of Internet fraud in which criminals create an imitation of a popular site, such as those of email service providers, Internet banking websites and social networking sites, luring users to these rogue web pages.
The unsuspecting user enters their login information and passwords into these fake websites and their personal account information is then sent to the cyber criminals.
The scammers use the information, whether it is bank credentials or email passwords, to steal the victims' money, as well as distribute spam and malicious software to their email or social networking accounts. Otherwise, they sell their databases of stolen passwords to other criminals.
In 2012-2013, phishers launched attacks on an average of 102,100 web users worldwide each day twice as many as the year before.
"These attacks are relatively simple to organize and are demonstrably effective, attracting an increasing number of cyber criminals to this type of illegal activity," said Nikita Shvetsov of the Kaspersky Lab.
"The volume of phishing attacks, which according to Kaspersky Security Network nearly doubled in a single year, confirms this trend."
According to the survey, which was based on data from 240 countries and territories, 37.3 million users around the world became victims of phishing attacks between mid-2011 and mid-2012.
Most often, the attacks targeted users in Russia, the US, India, Vietnam and the UK. The scams were most frequently launched from the US, the UK, Germany, Russia and India.
The rate of attacks was highest in Russia at 18.7 percent, while the figure was 12.9 percent in the US, 9.9 percent in India, 6.2 percent in Germany and 3.34 percent in Vietnam.
According to the Vietnam Internet Network Information Center, the country had more than 31.3 million Internet users by the end of 2012, a significant segment of the country of around 90 million people.
Kaspersky Lab's survey found Facebook, Yahoo, Google and Amazon are among main targets of cyber scammers.
"The data from this survey confirms that the scale of phishing attacks has reached such a significant level that they should be regarded as a dangerous threat category of their own, not merely an offshoot of general spam," the company said.
Email is no longer the most common delivery mechanism for phishing, as 88 percent of the cases involved web browsers, messaging systems like Skype, or other online activities.