The study reveals Yahoo! as most imitated brand for email-based phishing, and Netflix as the most imitated for mobile-based phishing attempts
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.
Apple was the brand most frequently targeted brand by cybercriminals, soaring from seventh place in Q4 of 2019 to the top of the rankings, according to Check Point Research’s Brand Phishing Report for Q1, 2020.
The report highlights the brands which were most frequently imitated by criminals in their attempts to steal individuals’ personal information or payment credentials during Q1 of this year.
10% of all brand phishing attempts related to the technology giant, as bad actors sought to capitalize on its powerful brand recognition. Netflix took the second spot with 9% of all phishing attempts related to the company, perhaps in part due to the increase in people accessing the service during the coronavirus pandemic. Meanwhile the Chase Bank brand rose by 3% from Q4 2019 to take the sixth position, with 5% of all phishing attempts seeking to exploit this brand.
The most likely industry to be targeted by brand phishing was technology, followed by banking and then media. This illustrates a broad spread of some of the best-known and most used consumer sectors, particularly during the coronavirus pandemic and associated quarantine, whereby individuals are grappling with remote working technology, potential changes to finances, and an uplift in home entertainment services such as streaming.
Top phishing brands in Q1 2020
The top brands are ranked by their overall appearance in brand phishing attempts:
- Apple (related to 10% of all brand phishing attempts globally)
- Netflix (9%)
- Yahoo (6%)
- WhatsApp (6%)
- PayPal (5%)
- Chase (5%)
- Facebook (3%)
- Microsoft (3%)
- eBay (3%)
- Amazon (1%)
Top phishing brands by platform
During Q1 2020, similar brands were used in mobile and web phishing vectors, which included banking and streaming services such as Chase and Netflix. Web phishing was the most prominent at 59%, followed by mobile phishing as the second most attacked platform compared to Q4 of 2019, where it ranked third. This is due to people spending more time on their mobile phones during the Coronavirus pandemic, which cybercriminals are taking advantage of.
Email (18% of all phishing attacks during Q1)
Web (59% of all phishing attacks during Q1)
Mobile (23% of all phishing attacks during Q1)
“Cybercriminals continue to exploit users by adopting highly sophisticated phishing attempts via emails, web and mobile applications purporting to be from well-recognized brands which they know will be in high demand at the moment, whether that’s a high profile product launch or just generally tapping into behavioral changes we’ve seen during the Coronavirus pandemic,” said Maya Horowitz, Director, Threat Intelligence & Research, Products at Check Point. “Phishing will continue to be a growing threat in the coming months, especially as criminals continue to exploit the fears and needs of people using essential services from their homes. As always, we encourage users to be vigilant and cautious when divulging personal data.”