Security and HR phishing scams are luring employees, KnowBe4 report finds

KnowBe4, the provider of the world’s largest security awareness training and simulated phishing platform, has revealed the results of its Q2 2021 top-clicked phishing report.

There has been a significant rise in phishing email attacks related to HR topics, particularly regarding new policies that would affect all employees throughout organisations. Real phishing emails that were reported to IT departments related to security-minded users about password checks continue to remain popular. One subject area that has dropped off dramatically includes messages related to COVID-19. End users have become more savvy about scams related to that topic. Social media messages are another area of concern when it comes to phishing, and LinkedIn phishing messages dominate as the top social media email subject to watch out for, holding the number one spot at 41%.

“With more employees returning to the office, they are concerned about new policies that affect their everyday situations at work, which is why we are seeing a rise in these types of phishing attacks” said Stu Sjouwerman, CEO, KnowBe4. “These days, it is especially important for all end users to take a moment to double check a link or attachment and to question whether the email is expected or unexpected. Employees are truly an organisation’s last line of defence. They can be the difference between a successful attack and an unsuccessful one with proper security awareness training and testing.”

In Q2 2021, KnowBe4 examined tens of thousands of email subject lines from simulated phishing tests. The organisation also reviewed ‘in-the-wild’ email subject lines that show actual emails users received and reported to their IT departments as suspicious. The results are below.

Security and HR phishing scams are luring employees, KnowBe4 report finds

Top 10 General Email Subjects:

-Password Check Required Immediately
-Vacation Policy Update
-Important: Dress Code Changes
-ACH Payment Receipt
-Test of the [[company_name]] Emergency Notification System
-Scheduled Server Maintenance — No Internet Access
-COVID-19 Remote Work Policy Update
-Scanned image from MX2310U@[[domain]]
-Security Alert
-Failed Delivery

*Capitalisation and spelling are as they were in the phishing test subject line.

**Email subject lines are a combination of both simulated phishing templates created by KnowBe4 for clients, and custom tests designed by KnowBe4 customers.

When investigating ‘in-the-wild’ email subject lines, KnowBe4 found the most common throughout Q1 2021 included:

-Zoom: Important issue
-IT: Information Security Policy Review
-Mastercard: Confirmation: Your One-Time Password
-Facebook: Your account has been temporarily locked
-Google: Take action to secure your compromised passwords
-Microsoft: Help us protect you – Turn on 2-step verification to protect your account
-Docusign: Lucile Green requests you to sign Mandatory Security Training documents
-Internship Program
-IT: Remote working missing updates
-HR: Electronic Implementation of new HRIS

*Capitalisation and spelling are as they were in the phishing test subject line.

**In-the-wild email subject lines represent actual emails users received and reported to their IT departments as suspicious. They are not simulated phishing test emails.

For more information on KnowBe4, visit www.knowbe4.com.

 

KnowBe4’s world-class summit is coming to EMEA on the 23rd of September 2021! This fully virtual, highly engaging, cybersecurity-focused event is designed for CISOs, security awareness training program administrators and InfoSec professionals, with talks covering the future of workplace security to bolstering an organisation’s security culture. Don’t miss out, and register today: https://www.knowbe4events.com/kb4-con-emea/home

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