Phishing attacks: most targeted messenger apps revealed

Phishing attacks: most targeted messenger apps revealed

The most popular messenger apps among phishing scammers have been revealed. The biggest share of detected malicious links were sent via WhatsApp (84.9%), followed by Telegram (5.7%) between December 2020 and May 2021.

This is according to anonymised data, voluntarily provided by Kaspersky Internet Security for Android users, which has also shown that in the same period, Viber, in third place, had a share of 4.9% with Hangouts accumulating less than one percent.

Countries experiencing the highest number of phishing attacks in messenger apps were Russia (46%), Brazil (15%) and India (7%).

WhatsApp had the biggest number of malicious links partly due to the fact that it is the most popular messenger globally, revealed statistics. Telegram had a far lesser amount of detections, but was similar in geography to WhatsApp.

The biggest number of malicious links were detected in Russia (56%), India (6%) and Turkey (4%). Research says, the high figures in Russia are probably due to the increased level of popularity of this messenger in the country. 

Based on statistics, Viber and Hangouts received a smaller number of recorded detections. The key difference between them is regional representation. The biggest number of detects in Viber was identified mostly in Russia with 89%, and the CIS countries – Ukraine 5% and Belarus 2%, and the majority of Hangouts’ detections were from the USA (39%) and France (39%).

According to research, globally, over 480 phishing detections were recorded per day. Messenger apps outstripped social networks by 20% in 2020, in terms of popularity among users, and became the most popular tool for communication.

Survey results also show that in 2020, the global audience for messengers amounted to 2.7 billion people, and by 2023 it is expected to grow to 3.1 billion. That is almost 40% of the world’s population.  

“Statistics show that phishing in instant messenger apps is still one of the most popular tools among scammers, says Tatyana Shcherbakova, Senior Web Content Analyst at Kaspersky. “This is partly due to the wide popularity of these apps among the audience, as well as the ability to use the built-in functionality of applications to carry out attacks.”

“Sometimes it can be difficult to determine whether an attack is phishing, as the difference can be just one character or a minor mistake. Vigilance combined with anti-phishing technologies form  a reliable tool in the fight against phishing in messenger apps,” added Shcherbakova.

To reduce the risk of falling foul of scams and receiving malicious links across messenger, it is recommended to follow these simple tips:

  • Be vigilant and look for misspellings or other irregularities in links
  • A ‘chain scheme’ is common practice, where a scammer asks a user to share the malicious link with his contacts which then looks legitimate to other users, as it is from a person they know. Be aware and don’t share any suspicious links with your contacts
  • Scammers often use WhatsApp and other messengers to communicate with users who were found on a legitimate resource (for example, various marketplaces and accommodation booking services) and also use them as a method of communication in malicious messages. Even if messages and websites look real, the hyperlinks, most likely, will have incorrect spelling, or they can redirect you to a different place
  • Even if a message or letter came from one of your best friends, remember that their accounts could also have been hacked. Remain cautious in any situation. Even if a message seems friendly, be wary of links and attachments
  • Install a trusted security solution and follow its recommendations. Security solutions will solve the majority of problems automatically and alert you if necessary

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