Spam and Phishing Attacks 2020 - Key Trends

Phishing and spam-based cyberattacks were prominent during 2020, with an added factor of the COVID-19 pandemic. A report by SecureList disclosed several trends observed in phishing attacks in 2020.

Key trends observed

According to the report, major trends included the use of instant messaging applications, imitating business or delivery services emails, malicious links and attachments, and messages offering financial aid.
  • Nigerian scammers were seen sending fake notifications of surprise lottery winnings continually with the pandemic theme. Such emails were generally sent out in multiple languages.
  • Online stores (18.12%) were the most frequent targets of phishing attacks, followed by Global Internet portals (15.94%).
  • One of the most frequent malware spotted in email messages belonged to Trojan.Win32.Agentb (6.47%), followed by WBVB worm (1.93%) and the Kryptik trojan (1.97%).
  • The main target for malicious email campaigns in 2020, was Spain (8.48%), followed by Germany (7.28%) and Russia (6.29%).

Some key stats your way

  • Spam in email traffic amounted to 50.37%, which is down by 6.14 p.p. in comparison to 2019. 
  • The volume of junk emails reduced over the year, the highest figure being 55.76% in January and the lowest being 46.83% in December.
  • Most of this spam traffic originated in Russia with a 21.27% share, followed by Germany, with a 10.97% share.

In addition, in the past few weeks, several agencies have raised warnings against ongoing waves of phishing attacks.

Conclusion

Phishing is one of the most popular techniques used by cybercriminals for their nefarious purposes. Thus, experts suggest being vigilant whenever an email arrives from an unknown sender. In addition, it is recommended to enable two-factor authentication, deploy email-gateways, and always keep the operating system and software updated.

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