The internet is full of fraud and theft and cybercriminals are operating in the open with impunity, misrepresenting brands and advocating deceit overtly.
Bolster found these criminals are using mainstream ISPs, hosting companies and free internet services – the same that are used by legitimate businesses every day.
Phishing and online fraud scams accelerate
In Q2, there was an alarming, rapid increase of new phishing and fraudulent sites being created, detecting 1.7 million phishing and scam websites – a 13.3% increase from Q1 2020.
Phishing and scam websites continued to increase in Q2 and peaked in June 2020 with a total of 745,000 sites detected. On average, there were more than 18,000 fraudulent sites created each day.
Cybercriminals use common, free email services to execute phishing attacks
The most active phishing scammers are using free emails accounts from trusted providers including Google and Yahoo!. Gmail was the most popular with over 45% of email addresses.
Russian Yandex was the second most popular email service with 7.3%, followed by Yahoo! with 4.0%.
Brand impersonation continues to escalate
Data reveals that the top 10 brands are responsible for nearly 44,000 new phishing and fraudulent websites from January to September 2020. Each month there are approximately 4,000 new phishing and fraudulent websites created from these 10 brands alone.
September saw a near tripling in volume with more than 15,000 new phishing and fraudulent websites being created for these top brands, with Microsoft, Apple and PayPal topping the list.
COVID-19 is still a target, but less so
Approximately 30% of confirmed phishing and counterfeit pagers were related to COVID-19, equaling over a quarter of a million malicious websites.
Compared to Q1, these scams increased by 22%, following dynamic news headlines – N95 masks, face coronavirus drugs and government stimulus checks. However, the good news is that these scams are declining month-over-month.
Cybercriminals will continue to utilize natural news drivers
Though phishing and fraudulent campaigns outside of extraordinary events are on the rise, cybercriminals continue to demonstrate their agility from major events. In Q3, Bolster discovered scams connected to Amazon Prime Day and the presidential election.
There was a 2.5X increase of fraudulent websites using the Amazon brand logo in September, focusing on payment confirmation, returns and cancellations and surveys for free merchandise. Where the presidential campaigns were fraught with counterfeiting and internet trolling.
“With the holiday shopping season kicking off, the results of the presidential election and the New Year approaching, we anticipate the number of phishing and fraudulent activity to continue to rise,” said Shashi Prakash, CTO of Bolster.
“In anticipation of these events, criminals are sharpening their knives of deception, planning new and creative ways to take advantage of businesses and consumers. Companies must be vigilant, arming their teams with the technology needed to continuously discover and take down these fraudulent sites before an attack takes place.”