Google, Amazon, WhatsApp top list of hackers’ favorite brands to imitate, report says


Google and Amazon have overtaken Apple as hackers’ most imitated brands, a new report says.

Google, Amazon, WhatsApp and Facebook are the brands that hackers copied the most to trick people into sharing their credentials, personal information and payments, according to the report from Check Point Research.

The two tech giants sit at the top with 13 percent, followed by WhatsApp and Facebook at 9 percent and Microsoft at 7 percent. Apple sank to seventh place from the top spot in the first quarter of this year, the cybersecurity firm added. They are ranked by their overall appearance in brand phishing events during the second quarter of 2020.

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Facebook is the most imitated brand on mobile while Microsoft ranks at the top in email attacks. Google, Amazon and WhatsApp were top brands for web-based attacks, which comprised 61 percent of the attacks.

The scheme used by hackers involves imitating the website of a well-known brand by either creating a web page similar to the official website or using a similar website address – or both.

There are several ways to dupe victims into visiting malicious websites.

Victims can be tricked into going to a bogus website via a phishing email or text message. Or, in a web attack, a victim can be redirected – for example by a bogus website that pops up during browsing – or by a fraudulent mobile application, according to Check Point.

Once the victim arrives at the fake website, the scheme is to get them to enter information into a form in order to steal sensitive personal information.

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So, why do these schemes work? “They work because we’re human, and we make mistakes – either because we’re in a rush and our defenses are lowered – or because we think we’re too smart to fall for a phishing attempt,” Check Point said in its report.

They also work if the attacker does a good job of imitating a trusted brand’s website that many people use without a second thought on a regular basis.

And email appears to be an increasingly popular way to get people to act rashly. Email phishing exploits are on the rise compared to the first quarter, Check Point explained.

“As we are all forced to work from home, the inbox is a prime attack method for hackers,” Lotem Finkelsteen, manager of Threat Intelligence at Check Point, told Fox News. “I’d think not twice, but three times before opening up a document in email, especially if it’s allegedly from Google or Amazon.”

To stay safe, users should never click on promotional links in emails. Instead, they should search for the retailer on Google, then click the link from the Google results page, Check Point added.

Another precaution to take is to stay away from “special” offers. A massive discount on a new iPhone, for example, is usually bogus. Another giveaway is spelling or grammatical errors in emails or websites.

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