Phishing scammers increasingly targeting users through messenger apps: Report

Phishing scammers are increasingly leveraging messenger apps to target users according to anonymised data, voluntarily provided by Kaspersky Internet Security for Android users.

As per the data, WhatsApp Telegram and Viber are the most popular messenger apps among phishing scammers. The biggest share of detected malicious links between December 2020 and May 2021 were sent via WhatsApp (89.6 per cent), followed by Telegram (5.6 per cent). Viber came in third with a share of 4.7 per cent and Hangouts has less than one per cent.

Geographical spread

India is among the countries experiencing the highest number of such attacks. Russia experienced the highest number of such attacks (46 per cent), followed by Brazil (15 per cent) and India (7 per cent). Globally, 480 detections were recorded per day.

Kaspersky Internet Security for Android has added a new feature, Safe Messaging, which prevents users from opening malicious links that they receive in messenger apps (WhatsApp, Viber, Telegram, Hangouts) and through SMS. As a result, Kaspersky analysed anonymized clicks on phishing links across messenger apps. As per the data, between December 2020 and May 2021, 91,242 detections were recorded globally.

According to the statistics, Kaspersky Internet Security for Android detected the biggest number of malicious links in WhatsApp, partly due to the fact that it is the most popular messenger globally. The biggest share of such messages was detected in Russia (42 per cent), Brazil (17 per cent) and India (7 per cent).

Telegram had the least amount of detections but was similar in geography to WhatsApp. The biggest number of malicious links were detected in Russia (56 per cent), India (6 per cent) and Turkey (4 per cent).

“High figures in Russia are probably due to the increased level of popularity of this messenger in the country,” the report said.

In terms of the number of phishing attacks recorded per user on WhatsApp, Brazil (177) and India (158) led the way. At the same time, Russian users have become leaders in the number of detections on Viber (305) and Telegram (79) compared to other countries.

“Statistics show that phishing in instant messenger apps is still one of the most popular tools among scammers,” said 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.