Social media attacks increased by 83% year-to-date

William S. | November 16, 2021

Now more than ever, threat actors rely on several attack channels to steal from customers and harm businesses. As more people are starting to use social media, cybercriminals see it as another opportunity to benefit.

According to the data presented by the Atlas VPN team, social media attacks rose by 83% from the start of the year until September. In addition, fraud-related social media threats accounted for most of the attacks encountered in Q3 2021.

The data is based on PhishLabs Quarterly Threat Trends & Intelligence Report, the November edition. The report uses information from social media attacks to present critical trends shaping the threat landscape.

In January 2021, the average target organization suffered nearly 34 attacks carried out through social media. In February, social media threats jumped up by 25% to 42 attacks per single enterprise. However, average threats fell to about 38 in March.

In the second quarter of 2021, the average of attacks carried out through social media increased significantly. They grew from nearly 41 in April to about 49 threats in May and June per organization, a 20% increase.

In the third quarter, the average target organization encountered another significant growth of attacks committed through social media. In July, social media threats rose to 58 per enterprise. While the attack average fell slightly in August to 57, it reached its peak in September, with 61 threats being carried out through social media.

Looking at the whole picture, the average target organization experienced 83% more social media threats in September than in January. While the average reflects a wide range of businesses and varies by industry, it highlights the critical need for security teams to monitor and regulate social media activity.

Most attacked industries

Some of the industries are particularly vulnerable to social media attacks. Depending on the service business provides, threat actors, weigh in the difficulty of the attack and expected monetary gains before choosing their target.

Payment services companies experienced nearly 63% of all attacks carried out through social media. Industries that operate financial transactions are often targets for cybercriminals. Threat actors usually can make a lot of money by launching a ransomware attack or stealing credit card and other sensitive information with phishing threats.

Broadcast media encountered 9% of the total attacks committed through social media in the third quarter of 2021. One of the most significant threats to the media industry comes from social media. This is because online platforms are where media companies communicate with their audience the most.

Dating services were the target of about 5% of attacks carried out through social media. Threat actors have been exploiting single people in dating apps or websites for a long time. From romance scams to phishing links that seek to take your personal information, cybercriminals have used all kinds of tricks to get what they want.

The e-commerce industry experienced nearly 4% of the attacks done through social media. However, the percentage might increase significantly in Q4 as Black Friday and Christmas sales are incoming.

While social media allows us to communicate easier, they are also abused to carry out cyberattacks and commit fraud. As the attacks through social media are getting more sophisticated, business security teams should be more actively monitoring activities there and employing a set of rules to secure company and consumers’ information.

William S.

William S.

Cybersecurity Researcher and Publisher at Atlas VPN. Focused on revealing the latest cybersecurity trends around the world.

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