LinkedIn users targeted in 52% of all phishing attacks globally in Q1 2022

Edward G. | May 11, 2022

Data presented by Atlas VPN reveals that LinkedIn was related to over 52% of all phishing scams globally in the first quarter of 2022. Interestingly, it’s the first time that social media network was leveraged much more often than any tech giant brand name like Apple, Google, and Microsoft.

Criminals reach out to the victims via email, instant messages, or telephone, pretending to be from reputable companies, in this case - LinkedIn, to lure out sensitive information. Many people tend to re-use their passwords, which means that losing your LinkedIn credentials can also lead to a break-in to your primary email account, which is often a gold mine for hackers. 

The primary data for this report was courtesy of Check Point, a leading provider of cyber security solutions.

The chart below shows the top brands used in phishing attempts in Q1 2022:

Notably, LinkedIn only appeared in 8% of all phishing attempts globally in the previous quarter. The LinkedIn brand name saw a 44% upshift in phishing scams in a relatively short period.

DHL dropped down from the first position to the second, with 14% of phishing attempts impersonating the well-known shipping company. There is one other shipping corporation on the list - FedEx. FedEx brand name was used in 6% of phishing attacks in Q1. 

The usual cybercriminal favorites - Google and Microsoft were used in 7% and 6% of attacks, respectively. 

WhatsApp (4%), Amazon (2%), Maersk (1%), AliExpress (0.8%), and Apple (0.8%) close out the top 10 list of brands that appear in phishing threats most often. 

Is there a specific reason for such a massive shift in the phishing landscape?

A while back, we released a study on a similar topic, which revealed that emails impersonating LinkedIn were the most clicked on social media phishing attacks, with a 47% open rate. 

Fraudsters likely picked up on the effectiveness of the LinkedIn brand name and shifted their scams accordingly. 

LinkedIn closing in on 1bn users

The LinkedIn platform saw significant growth in the last year. This social network for professionals grew by 11%, adding 82 million users.

 If the trend continues, LinkedIn will be able to boast about reaching 1 billion users within the next couple of years. 

Unfortunately, the growth of the network also creates a larger pool of potential victims for phishing scams.

It wouldn’t hurt LinkedIn to add a disclaimer that cybercriminals are using their brand name at extraordinary rates, so stay vigilant when opening emails. 

Avoid 99% of break-ins

It’s not that difficult to avoid phishing scams if you stay vigilant and follow a few basic cyber security practices. Even if you do give away your credentials by mistake, there are ways to stop fraudsters from breaking into your accounts. 

First of all, closely check the domains your emails originate from as well as the URL of the link within the email. You can often check the URL by simply hovering over the link. Grammar or spelling mistakes are another red flag.

Also, LinkedIn, like most other popular platforms, offers two-step verification (2-FA). It’s one of the biggest roadblocks against phishing attacks. Make sure to enable it on your email and all other accounts as well. 

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Edward G.

Edward G.

Cybersecurity Researcher and Publisher at Atlas VPN. My mission is to scan the ever-evolving cybercrime landscape to inform the public about the latest threats.

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