Microsoft remains most imitated brand for phishing

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In Q1 2021, Microsoft was the brand most frequently targeted by attackers, as it was in Q4 2020. 

Thirty-nine percent of all brand phishing attempts were related to the technology giant (down slightly from 43% in Q4), as cyber criminals attempt to cash in on remote workforces during the pandemic.

DHL maintained its position as the second most impersonated brand, with 18% of all phishing attempts related to it, as malefactors take advantage of the growing dependence on online shopping.

These were two of the findings of Check Point Research (CPR) Brand Phishing Report for Q1 2021. The report unpacks the brands which were most frequently imitated by threat actors in their attempts to steal personal information or financial credentials during the first quarter of the year.

The report highlighted how technology is still the most likely industry to be targeted by brand phishing, followed by shipping. However, banking has taken over from retail in the top three industries, with two banking brands, Wells Fargo and Chase, finding their way into the top ten list.

According to CPR, this shows that attackers are exploiting the surge in digital payments due to the pandemic, and the increased dependency on online banking, shopping and home deliveries, to try and trick users and commit financial fraud.

Omer Dembinsky, data research manager at Check Point, says: “Criminals increased their attempts in Q1 2021 to steal peoples’ personal data by impersonating leading brands, and our data clearly shows how they change their phishing tactics to increase their chances of success."

 While security measures are often built into Web sites and apps, particularly with banking, it’s the human element that often fails to pick up on scams, and as such, cyber criminals are continuing to trick people using convincing emails purporting to be from trusted brands, Dembinsky adds.

He advises users to exercise caution when giving out personal data and credentials, and to think twice before opening email attachments or links, particularly emails that claim to be from companies, such as banking institutions, Microsoft or DHL.

Top 10 brand phishing targets

Here are the top brands ranked by their overall appearance in brand phishing attempts:

  1. Microsoft (related to 39% of all brand phishing attempts globally)
  2. DHL (18%)
  3. Google (9%)
  4. Roblox (6%)
  5. Amazon (5%)
  6. Wells Fargo (4%)
  7. Chase (2%)
  8. LinkedIn (2%)
  9. Apple (2%)
  10. Dropbox (2%)

See also