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Microsoft as brand most targeted by phishers

Check Point Research has come out with a research study on global brands affected by phishing attacks:

Microsoft was the most frequently targeted brand by cybercriminals during Q32020-21, according to Check Point Brand Phishing Report for the quarter. The report highlights the brands that hackers imitated the most to lure people into giving their personal data. In Q2 Microsoft was at the 5th place. Check Point said as much as 19% of all brand phishing attempts related to Microsoft, as threat actors sought to capitalize on large numbers of employees still working remotely during the covid pandemic. DHL assumed the second spot in the ranking, figuring in the top 10 ranking for the first time, it had 9% of all phishing attempts related to the company.


The report said the most likely industry to be targeted by brand phishing was technology, followed by banking and then social network. “This illustrates a broad spread of some of the best-known and most used consumer sectors, particularly during the coronavirus pandemic, whereby individuals are grappling with remote working technology, potential changes to finances, and an increased use of social media,” said Check Point.

“In a brand phishing attack, criminals try to imitate the official website of a well-known brand by using a similar domain name or URL and web page design of the genuine site. The link to the fake website can be sent to targeted individuals by email or text message, a user can be redirected during web browsing, or it may be triggered from a fraudulent mobile application. The fake website often contains a form intended to steal users’ credentials, payment details or other personal information,” Check Point explained the hackers’ strategy.


Maya Horowitz, Director, Threat Intelligence & Research, Products at Check Point said: “In this past quarter, we saw the highest increase in email phishing attacks of all platforms compared to Q2, with Microsoft being the most impersonated brand. This has been driven by threat actors taking advantage of the mass migration to remote working forced by the covid pandemic, to target employees with fake emails asking them to reset their Microsoft Office 365 credentials. As always, we encourage users to be cautious when divulging personal data and credentials to business applications, and to think twice before opening email attachments or links, especially emails that claim to from companies, such as Microsoft or Google, who are most likely to be impersonated.”

The top brands, ranked by their overall appearance in brand phishing attempts, in the list are: Microsoft (related to 19% of all brand phishing attempts globally), DHL (9%), Google (9%), PayPal (6%), Netflix (6%), Facebook (5%), Apple (5%), WhatsApp (5%), Amazon (4%) and Instagram (4%).

The report said during the quarter, email phishing was the most prominent type of brand phishing platform, accounting for 44% of attacks, closely followed by web phishing, which was the second most attacked platform compared to Q2, where it ranked first. The top phishing brands exploited by email phishing attacks were Microsoft, DHL and Apple, in that order. The top brands attacked by the web (43% of all phishing attacks were Microsoft, Google, PayPal. Similarly, 12% of all phishing attacks happened through mobiles and the brands affected were WhatsApp, PayPal, and Facebook.


Check Point made a special reference to a malicious phishing email in mid-August trying to steal credentials of Microsoft accounts. The attacker was trying to lure the victim to click on a malicious link which redirects the user to a fraudulent Microsoft login page, it said.

It also said in September, it noticed a malicious phishing email which was allegedly sent by Amazon and was trying to steal user’s credit information. The email said that the user’s account was disabled due to too many login failures and pointed the user to a fraudulent Amazon billing center website in which the user was instructed to enter billing information.

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