Microsoft Continues Reign as Most Imitated Brand for Phishing Attempts in Q2 2021

Check Point Research issues Q2 Brand Phishing Report, highlighting the leading brands that hackers imitated in attempts to lure people into giving up personal data

San Carlos, California, UNITED STATES


SAN CARLOS, Calif., July 15, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Check Point Research (CPR), the Threat Intelligence arm of Check Point® Software Technologies Ltd. (NASDAQ: CHKP), a leading provider of cybersecurity solutions globally, has published its new Brand Phishing Report for Q2 2021. The report highlights the brands which were most frequently imitated by criminals in their attempts to steal individuals’ personal information or payment credentials during April, May and June.

In a quarter that saw Microsoft warn of a new Russian Nobelium phishing campaign, the technology giant was again the brand most frequently targeted by cybercriminals, as it was in both Q1 2021 and Q4 2020. Forty-five percent of all brand phishing attempts were related to Microsoft in Q2 (up six points from Q1). Shipping company, DHL, maintained its position as the second most impersonated brand, with 26% of all phishing attempts related to it, as criminals continue to take advantage of the growing reliance on online shopping.

CPR’s latest report also reveals that technology is still the most likely industry to be targeted by brand phishing, followed by shipping and retail. In Q1 2021, retail was interestingly overtaken in the list by banking, but it has now reclaimed its position in the top three possibly owing to the likes of the Amazon Prime Day sales.

“Cybercriminals are continually increasing their attempts to steal peoples’ personal data by impersonating leading brands. In fact, in the run up to Amazon Prime Day in Q2, more than 2,300 new domains were registered about Amazon,” said Omer Dembinsky, Data Research Group Manager at Check Point Software. “Unfortunately, it’s the human element that often fails to pick up on misspelled domains or suspicious texts and emails, and as such, cybercriminals continue to impersonate trusted brands to dupe people into giving up their personal information. In Q2, we also witnessed a global surge in ransomware attacks which are often spread initially through phishing emails containing malicious attachments. As always, we encourage users to be cautious when divulging their data, and to think twice before opening email attachments or links, especially emails that claim to be from companies such as Amazon, Microsoft or DHL as they are the most likely to be imitated.”

In a brand phishing attack, criminals try to impersonate 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.

Top phishing brands in Q2 2021

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

  1. Microsoft (related to 45% of all brand phishing attempts globally)
  2. DHL (26%)
  3. Amazon (11%)
  4. Best Buy (4%)
  5. Google (3%)
  6. LinkedIn (3%)
  7. Dropbox (1%)
  8. Chase (1%)
  9. Apple (1%)
  10. PayPal (0.5%)

Microsoft Phishing Email – Credentials Theft Example

During the second quarter of 2021, we have witnessed a malicious phishing mail which was trying to steal credentials of a Microsoft account. The email  which was sent from the spoofed email address Microsoft (no-reply@microsoft[.]com), contained the subject “Your Subscription Has Been Expired”. The attacker was trying to lure the victim to click on a malicious link (http://adminsys[.]serveftp[.]com/nensa/fabio/ex/478632215/zer7855/nuns566623) which redirects the user to a fraudulent Microsoft login page. In the malicious link, the user needed to key in their Microsoft account details.

Amazon Phishing Email – Account Theft Example

In this phishing email, we see an attempt to steal a user’s Amazon account information. The email which was sent from the email address Amazon Service (Service@srv[.]androidscrib[.]com), contained the subject “Your amazon account has been locked”. The attacker was trying to lure the victim to click on a malicious link, which redirects the user to a fraudulent malicious page that looks like the real Amazon login website. In the malicious link (https://habitosdamente[.]com[.]br/wp-admin/includes/logs/update-your-account-information/security-measure/?iyh_re), the user needed to key in their username and their password.

Check Point’s Brand Phishing Report is powered by Check Point’s ThreatCloud intelligence, the largest collaborative network to fight cybercrime, which delivers threat data, and attack trends from a global network of threat sensors. The ThreatCloud database inspects over 3 billion websites and 600 million files daily, and identifies more than 250 million malware activities every day.

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About Check Point Research
Check Point Research (CPR) provides leading cyber threat intelligence to Check Point Software customers and the greater intelligence community. The research team collects and analyzes global cyber-attack data stored on ThreatCloud to keep hackers at bay, while ensuring all Check Point solutions are updated with the latest protections. The research team consists of over 100 analysts and researchers cooperating with other security vendors, law enforcement and various CERTs.

About Check Point Software Technologies Ltd. 
Check Point Software Technologies Ltd. (www.checkpoint.com) is a leading provider of cyber security solutions to governments and corporate enterprises globally.  Check Point Infinity´s portfolio of solutions protects enterprises and public organisations from 5th generation cyber-attacks with an industry leading catch rate of malware, ransomware and other threats. Infinity comprises three core pillars delivering uncompromised security and generation V threat prevention across enterprise environments: Check Point Harmony, for remote users; Check Point CloudGuard, to automatically secure clouds; and Check Point Quantum, to protect network perimeters and datacenters, all controlled by the industry’s most comprehensive, intuitive unified security management. Check Point protects over 100,000 organizations of all sizes.

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