We use the internet for so many aspects of our daily lives these days, whether it’s working remotely, shopping and banking online, or just talking to friends that live in a different city. As a result, online data has become more valuable than ever.
Both individuals and businesses need to take steps to protect themselves from cybersecurity attacks, which have become more common than ever.
In particular, phishing has become a very popular strategy for cybercriminals to gain access to passwords and other valuable forms of data. During a phishing attack, a cybercriminal will pose as a trusted source in order to gain your trust and ultimately gather valuable information from you.
Chances are you’ve received phishing emails before, even if they’ve ended up in your spam folder. In recent years, phishing attacks have become increasingly sophisticated, and they’ve also become the most common form of cybercrime.
We’ve rounded up some of the most fascinating and alarming phishing statistics to illustrate the prevalence of these attacks. Understanding what phishing attacks are and how to spot them can help you avoid them in your online life.
Phishing attacks are a form of online fraud where cybercriminals impersonate legitimate organizations in an attempt to trick individuals into revealing sensitive information, such as passwords, credit card numbers, and social security numbers.
For example, these criminals might pose as your bank, a social media platform, or a popular e-commerce retailer like Amazon.
While other forms of cybercrime use hacking and other brute-force strategies, phishing attacks use social engineering to manipulate and deceive victims. Most phishing attempts happen via email, but they can also happen via social media, text messages, or any other digital communication channel.
Many phishing scams create a sense of urgency or play on the victim’s sense of empathy. Some phishing attacks also use ransomware or other forms of malware by placing a link or attachment in the email.
Because they exploit social vulnerabilities, phishing attacks are hard to prevent with firewalls and anti-virus software alone. Instead, individuals need to proactively watch for the signs of a phishing attack and avoid interacting with those emails.
During the pandemic, stay-at-home orders meant that people were working from home more often. They were also relying heavily on the Internet to make essential purchases and handle their personal finances.
As a result, many threat actors decided to focus on phishing attacks, and the rate of cybercrime overall increased during this period of time.
There are several different common phishing campaigns. As these cyber attacks have become more sophisticated, cybercriminals have learned how to target specific types of people or gain access to specific types of information.
Email phishing is the most common type of phishing attack. As the name implies, these attacks take place using malicious emails. They target both individuals and companies.
Email phishing attacks often pose as major corporations like Google, Microsoft, Amazon, Meta, or any other entity that the user would trust. Historically, email phishing attacks have often been characterized by poor spelling and grammar, making them easy to avoid. However, in recent years, hackers have gotten better at imitating these trusted entities, making these attacks harder to avoid.
Spear phishing is a specific type of phishing that targets a specific person, group, or business. Most email phishing attacks are generic messages that get sent en masse to an email list. However, spear phishing emails are more personalized to increase the chances of getting a response.
Cybercriminals spend more time learning about the target’s name, work, and interests to create a more targeted approach. Many of these attacks use the business email compromise (BEC) strategy, which happens when a scammer impersonates a company employee.
Whaling takes the concept of spear phishing a step further by targeting senior executives and other high-value individuals. These targets are typically very financially successful and often have access to high-level data at their organizations. These targeted attacks are particularly devastating and are also particularly lucrative for scammers.
Pharming is a unique type of phishing that does not use email or social media messages. Instead, this attack places malicious code on the target’s computer or mobile device.
This code redirects the victim from a trusted website to a counterfeit phishing website, where they will often have to enter their password or other secure information. Many phishers have switched to using this strategy because it doesn’t require targets to click a malicious link.
Virtually anyone can be the target of a phishing attack. Senior executives and wealthy individuals are the most common targets of these attacks, but the average consumer is often targeted by them as well. This is because virtually all types of personal data have financial value in the right context.
Small businesses have become a particularly common target of phishing messages. While their assets are substantial enough to be valuable, small businesses usually don’t have the robust cybersecurity strategies in place that larger companies do. This makes them a particularly attractive target for many hackers.
A successful phishing attack can be financially devastating. The financial losses from identity theft take time to recover for both individuals and businesses, making it difficult to get back on your feet.
As one of the world’s largest economic powerhouses, the US is a major target for phishing attacks. It’s important for Americans to be vigilant when it comes to cybersecurity and online communications to avoid falling victim to these attacks.
Phishing attacks can happen to anyone in the world with an internet connection. Many phishing attack trends are informed by current geopolitical and economic events.
Some industries are particularly big targets for phishing attacks because they deal with a high volume of valuable data. All employees working in these industries should have extensive training on how to spot and avoid phishing attacks.
Healthcare organizations are a particularly big target for phishing scammers because of the high volume of personal information they store. Many hackers specifically target HIPAA-protected information.
Many cybercriminals target financial organizations in order to gain access to credit cards, bank account information, investment accounts, and more.
Like the healthcare industry, companies in the pharmaceutical industry have access to a large volume of personal information from their customers, which makes them a target for phishing attacks.
The technology industry is another common phishing target for a variety of reasons. Hackers often target technology companies in an attempt to access their proprietary technology and intellectual property. Additionally, technology companies also collect a large volume of customer data as part of their operations.
Energy companies are some of the largest and most valuable companies in the world. Because of this, many executives at these companies are targeted by whaling attacks.