LinkedIn is now the ‘most imitated brand’ by phishing scammers

19 Apr 2022

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Social media sites such as LinkedIn are increasingly becoming a target for phishing attempts, according to a new Check Point report.

LinkedIn users have been warned to watch out for suspicious emails that could be phishing scams from cybercriminals intent on stealing data.

It comes as the professional networking site was found to represent 52pc of all phishing attempts globally, according to Check Point Research’s Brand Phishing Report for Q1 2022.

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The report highlights the brands that cybercriminals most often imitated in the first three months of this year to lure people into giving up their personal data.

In a phishing attack, criminals try to imitate the official website of a well-known brand by using a similar domain name or URL and a webpage design that looks like the genuine site.

A link to the fake website can be sent to targeted individuals using a number of different methods. The fake website often contains a form intended to steal users’ credentials, payment details or other personal information.

Check Point Research named LinkedIn as the most imitated brand by cybercriminals for the first time ever. This represents a significant increase on the previous quarter, when LinkedIn only accounted for 8pc of phishing attempts.

Courier company DHL was the second most targeted brand in the first quarter of the year, appearing in 14pc of phishing attempts. It was followed by tech giants Google and Microsoft as well as shipping brand FedEx. WhatsApp also featured in the top 10, accounting for almost one in 20 phishing attacks globally.

Check Point’s latest brand phishing report has pointed towards an emerging trend of threat actors leveraging social networking brands as part of their phishing attempts. Social networks are now the number-one targeted category ahead of shipping and technology companies.

“These phishing attempts are attacks of opportunity, plain and simple,” said Omer Dembinsky, data research group manager at Check Point.

“Criminal groups orchestrate these phishing attempts on a grand scale, with a view to getting as many people to part with their personal data as possible. Some attacks will attempt to gain leverage over individuals or steal their information, such as those we’re seeing with LinkedIn.

“Others will be attempts to deploy malware on company networks,” Dembinsky said, referring to “fake emails containing spoof carrier documents” that Check Point has seen purporting to be from shipping company Maersk.

“If there was ever any doubt that social media would become one of the most heavily targeted sectors by criminal groups, Q1 has laid those doubts to rest. While Facebook has dropped out of the top 10 rankings, LinkedIn has soared to number one and has accounted for more than half of all phishing attempts so far this year.”

Dembinsky added that the best defence against phishing threats is knowledge. “Employees in particular should be trained to spot suspicious anomalies such as misspelled domains, typos, incorrect dates and other details that can expose a malicious email or text message. LinkedIn users in particular should be extra vigilant over the course of the next few months.”

Here are some tips Dembinsky has for users of these targeted websites:

  • Be cautious when divulging personal data and credentials to business applications or websites
  • Think twice before opening email attachments or links, especially emails that claim to be from companies such as LinkedIn or DHL, as they are currently the most likely to be impersonated
  • Look for misspellings in emails
  • Beware of urgent requests, such as those telling you to change your password now

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Blathnaid O’Dea is Careers reporter at Silicon Republic

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