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DHL named most frequently imitated brand by hackers running phishing scams

With rising COVID cases and the holiday season, DHL ended Microsoft’s long-standing reign as the brand most frequently imitated by cyber criminals to steal personal data, according to a newly released Check Point Report.

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Tue, 18 Jan 2022
DHL named most frequently imitated brand by hackers running phishing scams
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For the first time, DHL took the number one spot in Q4 2021, replacing Microsoft as the brand most likely to be targeted by cyber criminals in phishing scams, as threat actors sought to take advantage of vulnerable online consumers during the busiest retail period of the year.

Check Point researchers identified that social media has solidified its position among the top three sectors imitated in phishing attempts, as WhatsApp and LinkedIn ranked higher in the Top 10 List for most imitated brands.

Top 10 Most Imitated Brands in Q4 2021

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

  • DHL (related to 23 per cent of all phishing attacks globally)
  • Microsoft (20 per cent)
  • WhatsApp (11 per cent)
  • Google (10 per cent)
  • LinkedIn (8 per cent)
  • Amazon (4 per cent)
  • FedEx (3 per cent)
  • Roblox (3 per cent)
  • PayPal (2 per cent), Apple (2 per cent)

While Facebook has dropped out of the top 10 brands most likely to be imitated, WhatsApp has moved from sixth position to third, now accounting for 11 per cent of all phishing attempts. LinkedIn has moved from eighth position to fifth, now accounting for 8 per cent of all phishing-related attacks.

What is a brand phishing attack?

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 webpage design of the genuine site. The link to the fake website can be sent to targeted individuals via 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.

According to Omer Dembinsky, data research group manager at Check Point Software, it's important to remember that cyber criminals are opportunists first and foremost.

"In their attempts to steal peoples' personal data or deploy malware onto a user's machine, criminal groups will often take advantage of consumer trends by imitating popular brands.

"This quarter, for the first time, we’ve seen global logistics company DHL top the rankings as the most likely brand to be imitated, presumably to capitalise on the soaring number of new and potentially vulnerable online shoppers during the year’s busiest retail period.

"Older users in particular, who are less likely to be as technologically savvy as younger generations, will be shopping online for the first time and might not know what to look for when it comes to things like delivery confirmation emails or tracking updates," Dembinsky said.

As a result of remote working and other fallouts from the pandemic, Checkpoint researchers found that Q4 has also confirmed social media would continue to be heavily targeted by bad actors looking to take advantage of those leaning more heavily on channels like WhatsApp, Facebook and LinkedIn.

"Unfortunately, there’s only so much brands like DHL, Microsoft and WhatsApp – which represent the top three most imitated brands in Q4 – can do to combat phishing attempts.

"It’s all too easy for the human element to overlook things like misspelt domains, typos, incorrect dates or other suspicious details, and that’s what opens the door to further damage. We’d urge all users to be very mindful of these details when dealing with the likes of DHL in the coming months," Dembinsky concluded.

[Related: Bunnings customers’ personal data compromised following cyber attack]

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