Woburn, MA – July 12, 2021 – Today Kaspersky released research findings identifying the messenger apps that are most popular with phishing scammers. Anonymized data, voluntarily provided by Kaspersky Internet Security for Android users, revealed that the largest share of detected malicious links between December 2020 and May 2021 were sent via WhatsApp (89.6%), followed by Telegram (5.6%). Viber was in third place with a share of 4.7% and Hangouts had less than one percent. Countries experiencing the highest number of phishing attacks were Russia (46%), Brazil (15%) and India (7%). Globally, 480 detections were recorded per day.
According to research, messenger apps outstripped social networks by 20% in 2020, in terms of popularity among users, becoming the most popular tool for communication. Survey results also show that in 2020, the global audience for messengers amounted to 2.7 billion people. By 2023, it is expected to grow to 3.1 billion. That is almost 40% of the world's population.
Kaspersky Internet Security for Android has added a new feature, Safe Messaging, which prevents users from opening malicious links that they receive in messenger apps, including WhatsApp, Viber, Telegram, Hangouts, and through SMS. Kaspersky used the feature to analyze anonymized clicks on phishing links across messenger apps, recording 91,242 detections globally between December 2020 and May 2021.
According to the results, Kaspersky Internet Security for Android detected the largest number of malicious links in WhatsApp, partly due to the fact that it is the most popular messenger globally. The biggest share of such messages was detected in Russia (42%), Brazil (17%) and India (7%).
Among Kaspersky Internet Security for Android users, Telegram had the fewest detections, but was similar in geography to WhatsApp. The highest number of malicious links were detected in Russia (56%), India (6%) and Turkey (4%). High figures in Russia are probably due to the increased level of popularity of this messenger in the country.
Viber and Hangouts received a smaller number of recorded detections. The key difference between them is regional representation. The highest number of detections in Viber was identified mostly in Russia with 89%, and the CIS countries – Ukraine 5% and Belarus 2% – and the majority of Hangouts’ detections were from the USA (39%) and France (39%).
In terms of the number of phishing attacks recorded per user on WhatsApp, Brazil (177) and India (158) led the way. At the same time, Russian users have become leaders in the number of detections on Viber (305) and Telegram (79) compared to other countries.
“Statistics show that phishing in instant messenger apps is still one of the most popular tools among scammers,” said Tatyana Shcherbakova, senior web content analyst at Kaspersky. “This is partly due to the wide popularity of these apps among the audience, as well as the ability to use the built-in functionality of applications to carry out attacks. Sometimes it can be difficult to determine whether an attack is phishing, as the difference can be just one character or a minor mistake. Vigilance combined with anti-phishing technologies form is a reliable tool in the fight against phishing in messenger apps.”
To reduce the risk of falling victim to scams and receiving malicious links via messengers, follow these simple tips:
More information about Kaspersky Internet Security for Android is available via this link.
Kaspersky is a global cybersecurity and digital privacy company founded in 1997. Kaspersky’s deep threat intelligence and security expertise is constantly transforming into innovative security solutions and services to protect businesses, critical infrastructure, governments and consumers around the globe. The company’s comprehensive security portfolio includes leading endpoint protection and a number of specialized security solutions and services to fight sophisticated and evolving digital threats. Over 400 million users are protected by Kaspersky technologies and we help 240,000 corporate clients protect what matters most to them. Learn more at usa.kaspersky.com.
Sawyer Van Horn