AI expected to drive up phishing attempts this year

Staff Writer
By Staff Writer, ITWeb
Johannesburg, 15 Jan 2024
Check Point Research shows Microsoft as the most impersonated brand in phishing attacks in Q4 2023.
Check Point Research shows Microsoft as the most impersonated brand in phishing attacks in Q4 2023.

Microsoft was the most impersonated brand used by cyber criminals in their phishing attempts during the last quarter of 2023.

Brands ranked by their overall appearance in phishing attempts during Q4 2023:

  1. Microsoft (33%)
  2. Amazon (9%)
  3. Google (8%)
  4. Apple (4%)
  5. Wells Fargo (3%)
  6. LinkedIn (3%)
  7. Home Depot (3%)
  8. Facebook (3%)
  9. Netflix (2%)
  10. DHL (2%)

This is according to Check Point Research, the threat intelligence arm of cyber security firm Check Point Software Technologies, which warns that artificial intelligence (AI) is likely to fuel an increase in phishing attempts in 2024.

Omer Dembinsky, data group manager at Check Point Software, says, “Following the widespread use of AI, we can expect to see a higher volume of phishing campaigns this year that are even more indistinguishable from genuine company communications.”

Microsoft accounted for 33% of all brand phishing attempts. Check Point cites the Microsoft verification scam as an example: the e-mail, posing as the Microsoft account team, claimed to require e-mail address verification, and urged recipients to click a verification link. 

Technology was the most targeted industry overall, with Amazon in second place at 9%, and Google in third at 8%. Social networks and banking represented the other two most targeted industries.

Consumer spending associated with the festive period saw cyber criminals continue to target retailers and couriers in Q4 2023. Check Point believes Amazon’s ranking can largely be attributed to the annual Amazon Fall Prime Day sale during the second week of October, while the package delivery brand DHL moved into the top ten due to increased activity during the November and December shopping season.

“While we have said goodbye to 2023, one thing has followed us into the new year and that is the threat of phishing. Even cyber criminals with limited IT expertise can accurately mimic legitimate brands to deceive unsuspecting customers and carry out social engineering attacks," Dembinsky warns.

“As the biggest names in technology, social networking and banking continue to be imitated, end users need to be extra vigilant when engaging with e-mails claiming to be from a reputable brand.”