WhatsApp and Telegram top list of preferred social apps for phishing scammers

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Phishing has become one of the most popular tools for scammers. So popular that in 2020, Google detected 2.1 million phishing sites, indicating an outrageous 25% increase from about 1.5 million recorded in 2019. This is the highest increase rate in phishing sites ever.

With the Covid-19 forcing people to still work remotely, it is therefore understandable that experts anticipate more increase in 2021. Indeed, 64% of businesses are expecting phishing attacks in form of emails. While they are right to anticipate and protect themselves against attacks via mails, they should also do well to consider attacks from social platforms.

According to cybersecurity report by Kaspersky Internet Security, attacks are coming from social platforms, with WhatsApp and Telegram the biggest social vectors. According to the cybersecurity company, WhatsApp is the most compromised social platform with roughly 85% of malicious links sent through the platform between December 2020 and May 2021.

Described as a ‘venerable, but increasingly sophisticated, form of cyber attack’, phishing uses disguised messages supposedly from trusted organisations to trick the recipient into believing that the message is something they want or need and to click a link or download an attachment and reveal personal information.

Telegram comes a very distant second with 5.7% of social phishing attacks coming through the platform. Viber is third with 4.9% of attacks with Google Hangouts next on the list with 1%.

WhatsApp and Telegram top list of preferred social apps for phishing scammers
Credit: Kaspersky

According to the internet security company, the biggest number of malicious links were detected in WhatsApp, partly due because it is the most popular messenger globally. Also, the instant messenger offers one of the easiest ways to share messages to a large number of people at once thus, it ensures quick propagation of malicious messages.

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

See Also: Who Needs the Office? Major Takeaways from Andela Conference on Accelerating Productivity with Remote Onboarding

To reduce the risk of falling foul of scams and receiving malicious links across messenger, follow these simple tips:

  • Be vigilant and look for misspellings or other irregularities in links
  • A ‘chain scheme’ is common practice, where a scammer asks a user to share the malicious link with his contacts which then looks legitimate to other users, as it is from a person they know. Be aware and don’t share any suspicious links with your contacts
  • Scammers often use WhatsApp and other messengers to communicate with users who were found on a legitimate resource (for example, various marketplaces and accommodation booking services) and also use them as a method of communication in malicious messages. Even if messages and websites look real, the hyperlinks, most likely, will have incorrect spelling, or they can redirect you to a different place
  • Even if a message or letter came from one of your best friends, remember that their accounts could also have been hacked. Remain cautious in any situation. Even if a message seems friendly, be wary of links and attachments
  • Install a trusted security solution and follow its recommendations. Security solutions will solve the majority of problems automatically and alert you if necessary


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