Phishing scammers increasingly target users through messaging apps: report

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Phishing scammers are increasingly using email applications to target users based on anonymized data voluntarily provided by Kaspersky Internet Security for Android users.

According to the data, WhatsApp Telegram and Viber are the most popular messaging apps among phishing scammers. The largest share of malicious links detected between December 2020 and May 2021 were sent via WhatsApp (89.6%), followed by Telegram (5.6%). Viber came in third with a 4.7% share and Hangouts with less than one percent.

Geographical distribution

India is among the countries with the highest number of such attacks. Russia experienced the highest number of such attacks (46%), followed by Brazil (15%) and India (7%). Overall, 480 detections were recorded per day.

Kaspersky Internet Security for Android has added a new feature, Safe Messaging, which prevents users from opening malicious links they receive in messaging applications (WhatsApp, Viber, Telegram, Hangouts) and via SMS. As a result, Kaspersky analyzed anonymous clicks on phishing links in email applications. According to data, between December 2020 and May 2021, 91,242 detections were recorded worldwide.

According to statistics, Kaspersky Internet Security for Android has detected the most malicious links in WhatsApp, in part because it is the most popular messenger in the world. The largest share of these messages were detected in Russia (42%), Brazil (17%) and India (7%).

Telegram had the fewest detections but was geographically similar to WhatsApp. The greatest number of malicious links were detected in Russia (56%), India (6%) and Turkey (4%).

“The high numbers in Russia are likely due to the increased popularity of this messenger in the country,” the report said.

In terms of the number of registered phishing attacks per user on WhatsApp, Brazil (177) and India (158) lead the way. At the same time, Russian users have become leaders in the number of detections on Viber (305) and Telegram (79) compared to other countries.

“Statistics show that phishing in instant messaging applications is still one of the most popular tools among crooks,” said Tatyana Shcherbakova, senior web content analyst at Kaspersky.

“This is in part due to the high popularity of these apps with the public, as well as the ability to use the apps’ built-in functionality to carry out attacks. Sometimes it can be difficult to determine if an attack is phishing, as the difference may be just a character or a minor error. Vigilance combined with anti-phishing technologies is a reliable tool in the fight against phishing in messaging applications, ”added Shcherbakova.


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