Financial services account for almost 40% of all phishing URLs

Vade released its Phishers’ Favorites report for the first half of 2021, which reveals that there has been a significant increase in phishing attacks since the start of the year with a peak of 281% in May and a further increase of 284 % in June, for a total of 4.2 billion. phishing emails detected by Vade for the month of June alone.

For this 6-month window, researchers identified Crédit Agricole as the most used brand, with 17,555 unique phishing URLs, followed by Facebook, with 17,338, and Microsoft, with 12,777.

Crédit Agricole is one of the eight financial institutions in the top 25

In the first half of the year, Crédit Agricole found itself in first place, but its position is not surprising in a year dominated by economic news. In February 2021, Crédit Agricole announced a “return to normalcy” after granting major deferrals of payment of business and consumer loans during the COVID pandemic.

However, in the second quarter of 2021, Crédit Agricole’s phishing URLs increased by 296%, while La Banque Postale’s URLs increased by 831%, pushing them 18 places to 5th place on the list. Other top 25 financial services brands include PayPal, Chase, and Wells Fargo. In total, financial institutions accounted for 36% of all URLs detected.

Microsoft is the most imitated cloud brand

After four consecutive quarters at No. 1, Microsoft has fallen to No. 2 in Q1 2021 and No. 4 in Q2 2021, placing third on the list for the first half of the year. Although unique Microsoft phishing URLs have declined, the sophistication of Microsoft phishing has actually increased.

In June, Vade detected an advanced phishing attack that used a public logo and background images to automatically display the company’s branding on fraudulent Microsoft 365 login pages.

With a simple API call, cybercriminals determined if a phishing victim was the intended target, then displayed their employer’s company brand on a Microsoft phishing page. Netflix (# 13), Adobe (# 14) and Docusign (# 23) join Microsoft on list of spoofed cloud brands.

Facebook dominates social media phishing

Consistently ranked in the top five, Facebook again topped all other social media brands on the phishing favorites list, coming in at number two on the list.

After slowing down in Q4 2020, Facebook phishing increased 137% in Q1 2021. Despite a 13% drop in phishing URLs on Facebook in Q2, Facebook still saw more than twice as many URLs as the second highest ranked social media brand, WhatsApp, which had 8,727 URLs for the period.

Additional findings

  • WhatsApp phishing increased by 321% compared to H2 2021
  • 36.4% of all unique phishing URLs impersonated financial services brands
  • 25% of all unique phishing URLs impersonated social media brands
  • Netflix phishing decreased by 51% in H2 2020
  • Brazil is the number one sending country for phishing

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