Phishing Activity Increased Significantly In 2020: Study


 BY CIO&Leader

Phishing activity increased significantly in the first few months of 2020, taking advantage of pandemic-induced product shortages and increased usage of streaming services, according to OpenText’s 2021 Webroot BrightCloud Threat Report. For the first time, eBay topped the list of brands most targeted for impersonations, with 31.1 per cent of all phishing attacks in the month of February impersonating eBay. In March, phishing activity surged among streaming services YouTube (3,064%), Netflix (525%) and Twitch (337%).

“Gathered from over 285 million real-world endpoints and sensors, and leveraging the extensive BrightCloud network of industry-leading partners, this year’s Threat Report clearly shows how cybercriminals are willing and able to evolve their tactics to exploit collective human interest and current events,” said Executive Vice President, SMB/C Sales, OpenText, Prentiss Donohue. “The findings underscore the need for users and businesses of all sizes to enact a multi-layered approach to data security and protection given the persistent creativity of cybercriminals.”

Some of the key findings include:


Attacks increased 510 per cent from January to February alone

The top five phishing targets of the year were eBay, Apple, Microsoft, Facebook and Google

By the end of 2020, 54 per cent of phishing sites used HTTPs. Use of HTTPS varies considerably based on the industry being targeted and is most heavily used when spoofing cryptocurrency exchanges (70% of the time), ISPs (65%), and gaming (62%)


86.1 per cent of malware is unique to a single PC

83 per cent of Windows® malware hides in one of four locations. One of which, app data, saw the infection rate jump 59.2 per cent YoY

Consumer devices saw twice as many malware infections when compared to business devices 

Infection Rates by Country and Industry

At 2.3 per cent, Japan had the lowest PC infection rate per region, followed by the United Kingdom (2.7%), Australasia (3.2%) and North America (3.7%)

In Europe, home devices were more than three times as likely to encounter an infection as business devices (17.4% versus 5.3%)         

Based on reported data, Health Care and Social Assistance (down 41.4% from the YoY average) led in terms of industries with the lowest infection rates, while the highest industry infection rates were seen by Wholesale Trade, Mining/Oil/Gas and Manufacturing

Mobile and Android

Of the total threats detected on Android devices in 2020, Trojans and malware accounted for 95.9 per cent, an increase from 92.2 per cent in 2019

Outdated operating systems accounted for nearly 90 per cent  of Android infections

Malware for Android-based IoT devices is increasing, underscoring the importance of securing all Android devices beyond just smartphones and tablets

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