Phishing Attacks Skyrocket with Microsoft and Facebook as Most Abused Brands

Instances of phishing attacks leveraging the Microsoft brand increased 266 percent in Q1 compared to the year prior.

The bloom is back on phishing attacks with criminals doubling down on fake messages abusing popular brands compared to the year prior. Microsoft, Facebook and French bank Crédit Agricole are the top abused brands in attacks, according to study on phishing released Tuesday.

According to the report by researchers at Vade, phishing attacks abusing the Microsoft brand increased 266 percent in the first quarter of 2022, compared to the year prior. Fake Facebook messages are up 177 percent in the second quarter of 2022 within the same timeframe.Infosec Insiders Newsletter

The study by Vade analyzed unique instances of phishing URLs used by criminals carrying out phishing attacks and not the number of phishing emails associated with the URLs. The report tallied the 25 most commonly targeted companies, along with the most abused industries and days of the week for phishing emails.

Phishing By the Numbers

Other top abused brands in phishing attacks include Credit Agricole, WhatsApp, and French telecommunications company Orange. Popular brands also included PayPal, Google and Apple (see chart).

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Through the first half of 2022, 34 percent of all unique phishing attacks tracked by the researchers impersonated financial services brands. The next most popular industry for criminals to abuse is cloud and the firms Microsoft, Google and Adobe. Social media was also a popular target with Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram leading the list of brands leveraged in attacks.

The report revealed the most popular days for sending phishing emails is between Monday and Wednesday. Less than 20 percent of malicious emails are sent on the weekend.

“Phishing attacks are more sophisticated than ever,” wrote Adrien Gendre, chief tech and product officer at Vade in an email to Threatpost.

“Hackers have an arsenal of tools at their disposal to manipulate end users and evade email security, including phishing kits that can identify when they are being scanned by a vendor and trigger benign webpages to avoid detection. End users need to be continually trained to identify the latest phishing techniques,” he wrote.

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