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Microsoft, PayPal and Google Top the Brands Hit by Phishing

Email phishing continues to be the most common method of attack, and according to new research from Comodo Cybersecurity Microsoft, PayPal and Google are the top three brands most targeted by phishing.

In its Global Threat Report 2018 Q3, researchers in Comodo’s threat research lab found that phishing represents one of every 100 emails received by enterprises, with 19% of those attacks targeting Microsoft, followed by 17% targeting PayPal and 9.7% going after Google.

According to the report, 63% of the emails a business receives are clean, while 24% are spam, and only 1.3% of business emails are phishing attempts. Of those, there were three subject lines that were used with great frequency.

In 40% of the phishing emails examined, the subject line was related to PayPal and read, “Your account will be locked.” Another 10% of phishing emails targeted FedEx and read “Info,” while the third-most popular headline, “August Azure Newsletter,” appeared in 8% of the phishing emails and targeted Microsoft.

While malicious attachments remain the top method of infection, phishing URLs are also gaining popularity and represent 40% of the total phishing emails analyzed. In one example, researchers discovered an email claiming to be a survey of that Azure newsletter. The message contained what appeared to be an authentic URL and Microsoft logo, which made it very difficult for users to determine whether it was legitimate. If users clicked on the link, they were delivered to a malware-laden web page, where they were covertly infected.

The report also found that there was a surge in malware deployment in advance of major national elections across the globe, as well as correlations of malware detection both prior to and immediately following geopolitical crises.

“These correlations clearly stand out in the data, beyond the realm of coincidence,” said VP of Comodo's cybersecurity threat research labs Fatih Orhan. “It is inescapable that state-actors today employ malware and other cyber-threats as both extensions of soft power and outright military weapons, as do their lesser-resourced adversaries in asymmetric response.”

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