The number of phishing attacks has reached an all time high, according to figures from MessageLabs.

The report found that one in every 87 emails intercepted this month was a phishing scam, the highest levels experienced by the security company to date.

According to MessageLabs, this jump can be attributed to the rise in availability of phishing kits and the use of “rock phishing” techniques, where hackers use one botnet computer to host multiple phishing sites simultaneously.

The study claimed that one in every 48 emails sent this month contained a virus and are increasingly (up by 15 per cent this quarter) containing links to malicious websites. It also states that 73 per cent of email traffic was spam.

“The start of the new school year seemed to bring back an increase in old-school threats and in high volumes,” said Mark Sunner, chief security analyst at MessageLabs, in a statement.

“With the incessant rise of compromised machines through aggressive botnet activity, further spam and phishing level increases are anticipated.”

The figures also suggest that targeted attacks are on the up. On 12 September more than 1,100 high ranking company executives worldwide were specifically targeted, MessageLabs said.

The emails, which claimed to be from a recruitment firm, used a Microsoft error message to trick recipients into clicking on a malicious attachment.