cyber-attacks via email

Earlier this week, Google had published a research blog about who are the people and regions most prone to cyber-attacks via email. The blog states that Google stops more than 100 million harmful mails (spam), from reaching Gmail users.

There were several malicious attackers who sought to profit from the pandemic, as more than 18 million malware and phishing related emails were tracked by Google’s robust servers.

Google’s researchers had teamed up with researchers at Stanford University to study and analyze who were the preferred targets of these phishing emails and malwares. It was not surprising to note that the major factors at play were place of residence, type of device being used and whether ones’ data had previously appeared in a breach.

After having aggregated the data over a five-month period, the below conclusions were drawn:

  1. 42% of the attacks were targeted at residents of the USA, 10% at residents of the UK, and 5% towards the residents of Japan.
  2. Most attackers tend to use a “one-size fits all” strategy and do not make the effort to localize their efforts. The same email template is used in several countries
  3. However, there are some countries where regional attackers thrive. For instance, 78% of attacks targeting users in Japan were in Japanese. Similarly, 66% of attacks targeting Brazilian users were in Portuguese.

Attackers’ patterns

It was noticed that the attackers do not plan random attacks. The attacks were pre-planned and aimed at topics that would garner maximum attention. The campaigns lasted for a maximum of 3 days on average. Though the targets changed very often, the method of attack used by the attackers was largely the same.

Who was at a higher risk of the attacks?

As is generally the case, not all users were at a high risk of being a victim of a cyber-attack. It was found that users in the age group of 55 to 64 years old were at the highest risk, whereas those in the age group of 18 to 24 years old were low-risk users.

Users in Australia faced twice the risk of being a victim of cybercrime compared to the United States. Mobile-only users were at a lower risk of being attacked as compared to multi-device users.

Tips to stay safe

  1. Complete a Security Checkup for personalized and actionable security advice.
  2. If appropriate, consider enrolling in Google’s Advanced Protection program, which provides Google’s strongest security to users at increased risk of targeted online attacks. 
  3. Enable Enhanced Safe Browsing Protection in Google Chrome to substantially increase your defenses against dangerous websites and downloads on the web.
  4. Browse these additional tips to manage your online security and choose the right level of protection for yourself.

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Guru is an Ex-Security Engineer at Comodo Cybersecurity. Co-Founder - Cyber Security News & GBHackers On Security.


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