Cyber criminals have switched focus to Microsoft as the go-to brand for phishing attacks during Covid-19, capitalising on a spike in remote working to imitate the technology giant via email, web and mobile.
Representing 19 per cent of all brand-related phishing attempts globally, Redmond jumped from 5th place during the second quarter to lead the market of exploited logos during the months of July, August and September.
Within the three-month period, almost a fifth of all brand phishing attempts worldwide were traced to the vendor, up from seven per cent during the previous quarter.
According to Check Point findings, Microsoft was followed by DHL and Google (both nine per cent) as the most impersonated brands, representing the first time the global courier and logistics company made the list. Next up is PayPal and Netflix (both six per cent), followed by Facebook, Apple and WhatsApp (all five per cent), in addition to Amazon and Instagram (both four per cent).
“Remote workers are a focal point for hackers,” observed Omer Dembinsky, manager of Data Threat Intelligence at Check Point. “Companies globally have their employees working remotely because of the coronavirus pandemic, possibly for the first time ever.
“There are currently billions of people now working remotely, many of them doing so for the first time in their lives. The sudden change has left many companies and remote workers unprepared to handle the latest cyber attacks.”
Delving deeper, email phishing represented the most prominent attack vector during the quarter, accounting for 44 per cent of attempted breaches, slightly ahead of web phishing (43 per cent) and mobile (12 per cent).
Microsoft topped the list of imitated brands on email and web platforms - ahead of DHL and Apple (email) and Google and PayPal (web) respectively - with WhatsApp, PayPal and Facebook most impersonated via mobile.
“Hackers, sensing big opportunity, are imitating the brand most known for work: Microsoft,” Dembinsky added. “I expect Microsoft imitations to continue as we turn the new year.”