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Phishing attacks caused businesses worldwide to lose $687 million in the first half of this year, according to RSA’s FraudAction Research Labs.

While this represents an increase compared to the same period of 2011, it’s actually a slight decrease to what companies experienced in the second half of last year.

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Other figures from the report show compared to the second half of 2011, the number of phishing attacks has increased by 19%.

The reason for the more attacks, but less money stolen is because experts from the Anti-Phishing Working Group found the attack duration median went down to 11.72 hours per attack from 15.3 hours. If the duration were to remain the same, the total losses would have been somewhere around $897 million.

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The main targets of the attacks recorded in the first six months of this year have been the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, Brazil and South Africa.

With the Canadian dollar being almost as powerful as the U.S. dollar, cybercriminals have turned their attention to the country’s organizations. According to the figures, Canada experienced an increase of almost 400% in the past months.

RSA researchers said phishing is a phenomenon that will not disappear any time soon because its success is based on human motivators and emotional triggers. The schemes usually rely on prizes, tax refunds, an individual’s greed, curiosity, and trust in institutions.

An individual’s urge to make wrong things right and their fear of false accusations can also ensure the success of malicious operations.

Because persuasion is such a pervasive component in lives, it is easy to overlook the external influences affecting the situation. When it comes to phishing, cybercriminals rely on persuasion in getting a victim to act on emotions such as anxiety or excitement.

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