Maliciousness in the message: phishing in messenger apps

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Vigilance combined with anti-phishing technologies form a reliable tool in the fight against phishing in messenger apps, ”says Tatyana Shcherbakova, Senior Web Content Analyst at Kaspersky.

Anonymized data that Kaspersky Internet Security voluntarily makes available to Android users has shown which messenger apps are most popular with phishing scammers. The largest proportion of malicious links discovered between December 2020 and May 2021 were sent via WhatsApp (89.6%), followed by Telegram (5.6%). Viber ranks third with a 4.7% share and Hangouts has less than 1%. The countries with the highest number of phishing attacks were Russia (46%), Brazil (15%) and India (7%). 480 detections per day were recorded worldwide.

According to the study, messenger apps outperformed social networks by 20% in terms of popularity among users in 2020 and became the most popular communication tool. Survey results also show that the global audience for Messenger was 2.7 billion people in 2020 and is projected to grow to 3.1 billion by 2023. That’s almost 40% of the world’s population.

Kaspersky Internet Security for Android has added a new feature called Safe Messaging that prevents users from opening malicious links that they receive in messenger apps (WhatsApp, Viber, Telegram, Hangouts) and via SMS. As a result, Kaspersky analyzed anonymized clicks on phishing links in messenger apps and found that 91,242 detections were recorded worldwide between December 2020 and May 2021. According to statistics, Kaspersky Internet Security for Android has detected the most malicious links in WhatsApp, partly due to the fact that it is the world’s most popular messenger. The largest share of such messages was in Russia (42%), Brazil (17%) and India (7%).

“Statistics show that phishing in instant messenger apps is still one of the most popular tools among scammers. This is partly due to the huge popularity of these apps with the audience, as well as the ability to leverage the built-in functionality of applications for attacks. Sometimes it can be difficult to tell if an attack is phishing because the difference can be just a sign or a small mistake. Vigilance combined with anti-phishing technologies form a reliable tool in the fight against phishing in messenger apps, ”says Tatyana Shcherbakova, Senior Web Content Analyst at Kaspersky.

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