In 2013, global volumes of phishing emails* dropped significantly compared with 2012. This is great news: users have become more savvy to the signs of mass phishing. Also, adoption of email authentication standards DKIM, SPF, and DMARC have begun to hamper spammers’ ability to pose as trusted brands.
The bad news is: even though mass phishing is down, spear phishing is not only on the rise, but is becoming more sophisticated. The APWG (Anti-Phishing Working Group) found that the number of brands targeted by spear phishing has risen.
To target an individual, cybercriminals gather information about the person through social media or other public outlets and use that information to create personalized lures. Often, spear phishing targets people with access to highly secure data — such as government officials, tech leaders, or journalists.
In 2013, organized forces around the world executed highly sophisticated phishing scams to target a variety of organizations and leaders. Below, we have detailed the top 7 phishing scams from 2013:
Though these scams list only a fraction of those perpetrated, worldwide, they show the breadth of organizations and people targeted, the diversity of reasons for targeting individuals and companies, and the sophistication of the criminals.
In short, they show the even more urgent need for every organization to employ strong email security in 2014.
Be safe out there, email users! Protect yourself.
*Phishing email is email sent from a cybercriminal to lure someone to take an action that downloads software onto their machine. This software has been written to perform a malicious action, such as stealing account information or other valuable data.
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