Microsoft replaced as the most-phished company by a surprising entrant

(Image credit: DHL)

Going into the holiday season, a surprising entrant displaced Microsoft as the biggest target for phishing attempts globally: DHL, the German logistics giant. 

Check Point Research found  that in Q4 2021, when the Christmas holidays see shoppers ordering presents left, right, and centre, saw DHL become the target of 23% of phishing attempts globally, followed by Microsoft (20%), WhatsApp (11%), and Google (10%). 

Microsoft has been the long-time target of phishing attempts, accounting for a stunning 29% in Q3 2021. FedEx also made a rare top ten appearance in Q4, clocking in at 3%, as attackers sought to capitalise on vulnerable online shoppers.

Social media tricks

 According to Check Point, a popular technique used by bad actors is impersonating a social media brand, evidenced by WhatsApp moving from 6th place in Q3 to 3rd place in Q4. 

Check Point describes "brand phishing", whereby the brand, logo, and general aesthetic are imitated to confuse people into inputting valuable details. The research group even provided some examples of phishing emails "from" PayPal, FedEx, and DHL. 

Check Point Research

An example phishing email, seeking to confuse DHL customers.  (Image credit: Check Point Research)

Double check, triple check

Phishing emails are incredibly commonplace now, especially around busy periods, and even the most tech savvy among us can be fooled by their slick designs or just absentmindedly click on a link. 

In the UK, Royal Mail has been an obvious target for shoppers with seemingly innocuous texts arriving about delayed shipping and associated fees. If you're expecting a parcel, it isn't unreasonable to accidentally click on the link.  

The best advice is double and triple check anything from a company that is asking for details and information, such as by looking at the email address or sender, which can often be bogus on closer inspection. 

Max Slater-Robins has been writing about technology for nearly a decade at various outlets, covering the rise of the technology giants, trends in enterprise and SaaS companies, and much more besides. Originally from Suffolk, he currently lives in London and likes a good night out and walks in the countryside.