Americans Accessed 23 Malicious URLs Per Minute on Average on Their Android Mobile Devices in Q1 2018

Fraudulent ads that involve spoofing well known and trusted brands top the list at 150 million detections

San Francisco, CA — June 6, 2018 — dfndr lab, the premier cybersecurity and anti-virus research arm of PSafe, staffed with the world’s top information security experts with help from community collaboration, announced its latest findings from Q1 2018. The new study is based on data from cyber attack detections in Android smartphones from more than 21 million active users of the dfndr security app by PSafe. dfndr lab analyzes 200 million digital files to keep its software products current when it comes to protecting users’ devices and staying ahead of cyber criminals.

Who you are and where you live matters

dfndr lab analyzes data by type of fraudulent activity, as well as detections by gender and region. The Q1 2018 study unveiled that men are twice as likely to click on malicious URLs than women, and they are more apt to fall for messenger schemes. Women, on the other hand, are more likely than men to fall for fake giveaways.

The Southeast region was the primary target of cyber criminals using malicious links during the first quarter of 2018, with 746,000 detections. California, Texas, and Florida were the top three states where such activity was detected, accounting for 31.4 percent of all the malicious link detections in this past quarter.

“We invest heavily in dfndr lab and rely tremendously on proprietary AI and machine learning so we can acquire the knowledge and build the skills we need to learn, detect, analyze, and alert our security team about cyberattacks, the latest malware and viruses, online scams, and cybercrime trends,” said Marco DeMello, CEO, PSafe. “All of this rich intelligence is rolled into our suite of products to protect customers.”

Beware fraudulent ads, spoofs, and phony SMS messages

Fraudulent ads that involve spoofing well known and trusted brands continued to hold the top spot with 1.5 million detections, up more than half a million detections from last quarter. Just behind fraudulent ads, phishing scams took the second spot at 1.4M of the total detections, down from 2M in the last quarter, suggesting that other types of online attacks are on the rise and hackers might be trying new and more targeted tactics such as phishing scams.

Phishing scams involve the use of spoofed emails and SMS messages that appear to come from well-known organizations asking users for personal information such as social security numbers, bank account credentials, credit card numbers, and passwords. Often times phishing attempts appear to come from websites, services, and businesses that the user may not even have an account with. Common tactics involve asking users to update personal information, issues with an order, or a problem processing a payment.

The top three scams detected include:

  •       Fake virus alerts sent to your mobile device (558,221)
  •       Adult dating site phishing scams (175,423)
  •       Fraudulent promotions or giveaways (108,106)

Fraudulent ads on the rise, especially through messaging apps

Increasingly in the news, and confirmed by dfndr lab, are scams using messaging apps, such as WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger. Although attacks related to messaging apps were down 32 percent overall from 475K detections in Q4 2017 to 326K detections in Q1 2018, counterfeit promotions saw a more significant reduction in detections from 537K to 215K, down 60 percent. Data trends suggest that hackers are increasing their focus on using fraudulent advertisements as their preferred method of attack while using other methods less often.

Fake news: what is it, and why should you care?

Fake news stories contain misleading or false information that is published by often unreliable and unverifiable sources. Many times, misinformation comes from websites that spoof legitimate news agencies or other reputable websites. Authors usually are not experts on the subject they are writing about and in some cases profit from spreading false information.

Fake news is harmful because it can diminish the credibility of individuals or organizations who repost these stories or cite them as sources of factual information. Stories that contain false information about an individual or business can cause irreparable damage to their reputations. Additionally, websites that post bad information such as false medical advice can be dangerous and physically harm users.

About dfndr lab

The dfndr lab team uses intelligent software to scour the Internet for potentially harmful stories tied to scams. PSafe security experts then analyze all flagged content for legitimacy, updating the company’s database daily to alert the public of new threats as soon as possible.

Users are encouraged to assist the dfndr lab team with these efforts by submitting suspicious content for analysis. Visit and paste a suspect link into the URL checker tool. This tool not only identities dangerous links for users, but also supports PSafe’s quest to cover fake news sites. Since Q4 2017, fake news detection has increased by 19.6 percent. To join us in PSafe’s goal to keep consumers safe from cyber attacks and learn more about how to spot fake news, please visit and review the study to learn more.

About PSafe

PSafe Technology is a leading provider of mobile security, privacy, and performance optimization apps. The company is dedicated to delivering innovative products that protect consumers’ freedom to safely connect, share, play, express, and explore online. The flagship antivirus and anti-hacking app, dfndr security, with 130+ million installs globally, has consistently been named as a top-rated antivirus software by AV-TEST Institute—the world leader in security and antivirus research. To safeguard and enhance users’ online experiences, the company’s app portfolio continues to grow and now includes a cleaning and boosting app—dfndr performance, a virtual private network app, dfndr vpn, a private storage app—dfndr vault, and a battery performance app—dfndr battery. PSafe is funded by Redpoint Ventures,, RPeV, Pinnacle Ventures, and Index Ventures. The company is headquartered in San Francisco, CA with offices in Brazil and numerous satellite employees around the globe.

Press Contacts

David Templeton
DBT Communications

Marie Domingo
DBT Communications