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Social Media #Phishing Soared 500% In 2016

Social media phishing attacks jumped by 500% in Q4, driven by a huge increase in fraudulent accounts including many posing as customer support for big name brands, according to Proofpoint.

It claimed fraudulent accounts across sites like Twitter and Facebook increased 100% from the third to fourth quarter.

Such accounts are used for phishing, malware distribution, spam and other ends. Proofpoint observed a 20% increase in Facebook and Twitter spam from Q3 to Q4, with the final quarter recording the second highest spam volume in the year.

Yet it was a particular variety of phishing that caught the eye.

Angler Phishing

So-called “angler phishing” is a relatively new tactic in which the criminals register fake Twitter accounts that masquerade as customer support accounts.

They monitor the real support accounts for irate customer messages and then quickly jump in to send messages back to those users loaded with malicious links.

The tactic was particularly common among financial services and entertainment accounts, according to the report.

To avoid falling for angler-phishing strategies, always check that the account contacting you is the genuine one. Most official companies will have a ‘blue tick’ on social media sites such as Twitter, which means they are a genuine, verified account.


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Cyber Aware is a cross-government campaign, funded by the National Cyber Security Programme. They aim to measurably and significantly improve the online safety behaviour and confidence of consumers and small businesses (SMEs).

Get Safe Online is the UK’s leading source of factual and easy-to-understand information on online safety. Their website offers advice on how you can protect yourself, your computers and devices, and your business against the likes of fraud, identity theft, viruses and other potential online problems.

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