You casually click through emails on the sofa, living your best work from home life, when you spot a Microsoft notice reminding you to update your settings. Without thinking about anything other than being a responsible human being, you click on the attachment, enter your credentials and move on through your workload.
But the supposed email wasn’t a Microsoft email—it was a phishing lure and you just fell for it.
According to 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 to 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.
Brand phishing emails have proliferated in the last year thanks to the pandemic and remote working-where people are constantly online, concerned about their finances, and utilizing social media even more.
And the number one imitated brand?—Microsoft, with DHL hot on its heels. Microsoft products and services represented nearly a fifth of all global brand phishing attacks in the third quarter of this year.
According to new research, right behind Microsoft (related to 19 percent of all phishing attempts globally) were: shipping company DHL (9 percent); Google (9 percent); PayPal (6 percent); Netflix (6 percent); Facebook (5 percent); Apple (5 percent); WhatsApp (5 percent); Amazon (4 percent); and Instagram (4 percent).
The study also found that 44 percent of all phishing attacks were delivered by email, followed by web (43 percent) and mobile (12 percent). The top three phishing brands exploited by email phishing attacks were Microsoft, DHL and Apple; on the web, it was Microsoft, Google and PayPal; and for mobile, WhatsApp, PayPal and Facebook took the top spots.
“Remote workers are a focal point for hackers,” said Omer Dembinsky, manager of data threat intelligence at Check Point, in a statement. “Companies globally have their employees working remotely because of the coronavirus pandemic, possibly for the first time ever. There are currently billions of people now working remotely, many of them doing so for the first time in their lives. The sudden change has left many companies and remote workers unprepared to handle the latest cyberattacks. Hackers, sensing big opportunity, are imitating the brand most known for work: Microsoft.”
Another noted attack during September was 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 is instructed to enter billing information. During the coronavirus pandemic, Amazon has seen explosive growth, as many rely on the e-commerce giant for goods throughout quarantined periods. Accordingly, hackers have made efforts to exploit Amazon’s popularity during the coronavirus pandemic.
Dembinsky added, “I expect Microsoft imitations to continue as we turn the New Year. I encourage remote workers to be extra cautious when receiving an email. If you get an email about your ‘Microsoft’ account, I would have my guard up.”
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