Study: Almost 70% of email scammers leave the 'subject' line empty

William S. | June 22, 2022

Cybercriminals frequently target businesses and individuals via emails that appear to come from a legitimate bank, government agency, or organization. In phishing attacks, scammers will employ social engineering techniques to get you to click on their email.

According to the data presented by the Atlas VPN team, 67% of scammers leave the ‘subject’ line empty in malicious emails. Other ‘subject’ lines are not nearly as used as just keeping it blank, which can be a major red flag when identifying a phishing email.

The data is based on the Expel Quarterly Threat Report Q1 2022. The trends presented in the research are incidents Expel’s security operations center (SOC) identified through investigations into alerts, email submissions, or hunting leads. They analyzed incidents across their customer base, spanning organizations of various shapes, sizes, and industries.

About 9% of attackers would type in ‘Fax Delivery Report’ in the subject line of phishing emails. Nearly 6% of email scammers enter ‘Business Proposal Request’ as the subject line. Furthermore, 4% of threat actors would write a simple ‘Request’ as the email's subject. Another 4% of attackers are trying to set up a ‘Meeting’ with their victims.

Almost 3.5% of scammers would send emails with the subject *‘You have (1) New Voice Message’**. Moreover, 2% of threat actors would type in ‘Re: Request’ in the subject of their phishing emails. Another 2% of attackers insist victims click on their email with the subject ‘Urgent request’. Lastly, 2% of scammers write ‘Order Confirmation’ as the subject line.

The tactic used in phishing emails is often to urge the user to click on the email or link without much thought. So it is unsurprising that some of these subjects include words like ‘urgent.’ Some subjects are directed at business employees who might have real and fake ‘meetings’ or ‘business requests’ mixed in their inboxes.

Tips for detecting a phishing email

Phishing attacks are prevalent and could cause a significant loss of your personal information. Our report from earlier in the year found that 54% of successful phishing attacks end in customers' data breaches. Learning to recognize a phishing email is one of the essential cybersecurity practices.

Bad grammar is one of the first things you should notice in a phishing email. As many scammers are not from English-speaking countries, their writing might contain grammatical errors that native speakers would not make. However, some hackers can cause errors on purpose to filter out less observant people, making them easier targets.

Another thing you should take into account is the email address domain. Usually, no legitimate organization will send emails from public email domains such as ‘@gmail.com’. Most businesses have their own email domain and company accounts. For example, a legitimate email from Atlas VPN will read ‘@atlasvpn.com’.

Lastly, no company will ever ask for any sensitive information sent via email. If the email contains a link or attachment that requires you to provide personal data, it is most likely a scam. Only threat actors would send you an email asking you to input your credit card numbers or a password.

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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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Phishing

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