New Report Finds Fake News Scams Increased by almost 20% in Q1 2018

dfndr labs recently released its Q1 2018 Cybersecurity Report analyzing cybercrime trends for the first three months of this year.  According to the report, fake news detections increased by 19.6% from 15.7K detections in Q4 2017 to 18.8K detections in Q1 2018. These stories are harmful in several ways. First, they diminish the credibility of individuals or organizations that re-post and cite them as sources of factual information. Additionally, fake news stories can do irreparable damage to the reputations of businesses and individuals as well cause physical harm to users that contain inaccurate information such as incorrect medical advice. Finally, cyber scams often spread malicious links connected to the articles.

Overview

The report found that men were three times as likely to click on a fake news story as women. Males made up 74.8% of fake news detections in Q1 with 14K detections compared to females who made up 25.1% of detections with about 5K detections.

The top two fake news stories detected involved a get-rich-quick scheme working from home and a diet supplement scam.  The first story had 5K detections for a phony work-at-home job taking paid online surveys. The article encouraged readers to click a link to sign up on a fake website to get more information so that they could learn the secret to making money using this method. The second story, involving a bogus weight loss supplement contained malicious links directing users to more information about the product had 2K detections.

Detections By Region

  1. Northeast – 33.3%
  2. Southeast – 26.7%
  3. West – 18.3%
  4. Southwest – 12.8%
  5. Midwest – 8.6%

The Northeast was the region most impacted by malicious links spread through fake news stories in Q1 2018 with 33.3% of the detections. The Southeast came in second with 26.7% of detections followed by the West with 18.3% of detections, the Southwest with 12.8% of detections and finally the Midwest with 8.6% of detections.  The top three states affected by fake news were California with 2.7K Detections, New Jersey with 2.5K detections and New York with 2.0K detections.

Tips for Identifying Fake News

  1. Look beyond the headline
  2. Verify sources
  3. Look for satirical disclaimers
  4. Double check breaking news on Social Media

There are several things you can do to verify whether or not a story is fake news. Start by looking beyond the headline. According to an article published in the New York Times posted last June, a study found that 59% of news stories that had been re-posted on social media hadn’t received any clicks meaning they hadn’t been opened or read. The stories were shared solely based on information contained in their headlines.  

Second, look for quotes by experts or individuals with firsthand information who were directly involved in the story.  Information presented should be easily verifiable online with a little research. Fake bloggers and news writers will often include links as reference material.  It’s a good idea to double check to make sure that these sources back up the writer’s claims.

Satirical websites that look like legitimate news agencies are becoming increasingly more common. Often, they have credible sounding names and their sources sound believable. Look for fine-print disclaimers identifying websites and stories as satirical or for entertainment only.  Additionally, doing some research on the site publishing the article can help reveal its legitimacy.

Finally, double check breaking news being spread quickly on social media. Well-intentioned users often want to be the first to share a juicy story causing it to spread like wildfire. It is always a good idea to fact-check using the websites of legitimate news agencies or to see if local radio or television stations are carrying the story before reposting it.

Staying Protected

1) The best method to protect yourself from becoming a victim of an online scam is to fact check information such as news, job opportunities, contests, and promotions before sharing it on social media. Remember, cybercriminals often create spoofed offers and websites from well known and trusted brands.

2) Always protect your mobile device with reputable security software. dfndr security provides features such as anti-phishing that alerts users to malicious links received through SMS, emails or messenger apps before you click them.

3) Finally, you can also use the dfndr lab page verification tool at dfndrlab.com to verify suspicious URLs.

New Report Reveals the Top Scams Online in Q1 2018

dfndr lab recently released its Q1 2018 Cybersecurity Report analyzing cybercrime trends for the first three months of this year.  According to the report, fraudulent advertisements and generic phishing accounted for 69% of all cyber attacks in January, February, and March of 2018. While spoofed ads were up from the previous quarter, the second and third place categories saw a decline suggesting that hackers are putting more effort into impersonating well-known, reputable brands. There were more than 3M online scams were detected this past quarter.

Top Scam Categories

  1.    Fraudulent Advertisements – 50.1%
  2.    Generic Phishing Scams – 18.9%
  3.    Messenger Scams – 10.9%

Cybercriminals favored targeting users with false advertisements in Q1 2018 making up more than half of all online scams. Fraudulent ad detections totaled more than 1.5M, up over half a million from 971K detections in Q4 2017, a 54% increase.  

Generic phishing scams were the second most common type of cyber attack with 566K detections, although it saw a 16% decrease from the previous quarter. Phishing involves sending spoofed messages that appear to come from trusted companies in which the users likely already do business. These spoofed messages are often transmitted through SMS and emails to trick users into sharing sensitive personal data such as passwords, social security numbers or bank account information containing malware-infected links.

Scams using messenger apps such as WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger bumped fake promotions from the top scams of this quarter. Both of these categories saw reductions, however. The use of counterfeit promotions dropped substantially by 60% although scams sent through messaging apps were down only 32% from 475K detections in Q4 2017 to 326K detections in Q1 2018.

Top Scams Online

  1.    Fake Virus Alerts- 558K
  2.    Adult Dating Site- 175K
  3.    Fake Promotions- 108K

There were 558K fake virus alerts detected in Q1 2018. These types of spoofed warnings were the top threat in Q1 2018 and are an example of fraudulent advertisements. This type of scam leads the user to believe that their device has been infected with a virus and encourages them to click the ad to download bogus anti-virus software to correct the issue.

The second of the top scams for Q1 2018 involved an adult dating site with a total of 175K detections. This scam is an example of generic phishing and involves tricking the user into allowing the site access to send update notifications that installed malware. Additionally, it directed users to websites that paid the hackers commissions for click-through ad engagements.  

Fake promotions are similar to fraudulent advertisements and accounted for 108K detections in Q1 2017. These scams bait users into registering for chances to win valuable prizes by clicking on an infected link, subscribing to a paid SMS service or installing an app containing malware. While this type of activity was down substantially from Q4 2017 by 59%, it still rounded out the top three scams of the quarter.  

Staying Protected

The best method to protect yourself from becoming a victim of an online scam is to fact check information such as news, job opportunities, contests, and promotions before sharing it on social media. Remember, cybercriminals often create spoofed offers and websites from well known and trusted brands.

Always protect your mobile device with reputable security software. dfndr security provides features such as anti-phishing that alerts users to malicious links received through SMS, emails or messenger apps before you click them.

Finally, you can also use the dfndr lab page verification tool at dfndrlab.com to verify suspicious URLs.

New Report Finds Americans Accessed 23 Malicious URLs per Minute in Q1 2018

dfndr lab recently released its Q1 2018 Cybersecurity Report analyzing cybercrime trends for the first three months of this year.  According to the report, there were more than 3M malicious URLs detected between January and March, up 10% from 2.9M in Q4 2017. Americans accessed an average of 23 infected links per minute. Data analysis revealed that March saw the most online scams with 1.2M detections. January was close behind at 929K detections. February saw a dip between the first and third month of the quarter coming in at 849K detections. This trend was consistent in the regional breakdown as well as data for the top five states.

Detections by Regions

  1.    Southeast – 746K
  2.    West- 511K
  3.    Northeast – 478K
  4.    Midwest – 472K
  5.    Southwest – 363K

The Southeast saw the most cybercrime related to malicious URLs in Q1 2018 with more than 747K making up 29.0% detections. The Western region came in second with 512K detections making up 19.8% of those victimized by an online scam.  The Northeast narrowly beat out the Midwest with only a 2% difference. The Northeast made up 18.5% of detections and was only slightly higher with 478K detections compared to the Midwest’s 473K detections consisting of 18.3%. The Southwest region was the least affected with 363K detections, just 14.1% of cybercrime for the quarter.

Top Three States Detections

  1.    California – 327K (12.6%)
  2.    Texas – 279K (10.8%)
  3.    Florida – 203K (7.8%)

The top state for malicious link detections in Q1 2018 was California with 12.6%. The highest month was March 140.6K detections, followed by January with 97.7K and February 88.2K.  Texas came in second with 10.8% of detections. March had the most detections with 116K, followed by January with 83.3K and February with 79.5K. Florida made up 7.8% of detections with 79.5K in March, 66.5K in January, and 56.4K in February.

Staying Protected

1) The best method to protect yourself from becoming a victim of an online scam is to fact check information such as news, job opportunities, contests, and promotions before sharing it on social media. Remember, cybercriminals often create spoofed offers and websites from well known and trusted brands.

2) Always protect your mobile device with reputable security software. dfndr security provides features such as anti-phishing that alerts users to malicious links received through SMS, emails or messenger apps before you click them.

3) Finally, you can also use the dfndr lab page verification tool at dfndrlab.com to verify suspicious URLs.

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

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 dfndrlab.com 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 dfndrlab.com 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, e.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
203.530.0458
dbtcom@gmail.com

Marie Domingo
DBT Communications
650.888.5642
marie@mariedomingo.com

New Report Finds Males Were Twice As Likely to Fall Victim to Online Scams in Q1 2018

dfndr lab recently released its Q1 2018 Cybersecurity Report analyzing cybercrime trends for the first three months of this year.  According to the report, there were more than 3M malicious links detected between January and March. Data analysis revealed that 67.4% of the victims were male compared to females who made up only 32.6%, showing men were at more than double the risk of becoming victims of online scams overall.

Overview

Men were more susceptible to fraudulent advertisements and scams using messenger services than to women. Deceptive advertisements involving the spoofing of well known and trusted brands were the most common type of fraud in Q1 with more than half of all detections at 1.5M.  Males made up 51.3% of those that clicked on a fraudulent ad compared to 48.1% of women. Malicious detections using messenger apps such as Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp accounted for 10.9% of online scams in the first part of 2018. There were 326K total detections made for this type of online scam.  12.5% of males were victims of some form of fraud involving a messenger app compared to 7.4% of women.

Top Five Scams for Males in Q1 2018

  1. Fraudulent Advertisements – 51.3%
  2. Generic Phishing – 16.5%
  3. Messenger Schemes – 12.5%
  4. Banking Payment Phishing – 9.8%
  5. Fake Promotions or Giveaways – 6.2%

Women were more likely to fall victim to generic phishing scams and fake promotions and giveaways over men. There were 566K generic phishing scams discovered this quarter making it the second most common type of online scam and 18.9% of total detections. Phishing involves the use of spoofed emails and SMS messages from trusted sources asking for personal information. 23.7% of females clicked on a phishing link compared to 16.5% of males. Fake promotions and Giveaways made up 7.2% of the malicious detections in Q1.  There were more than 215K of these online scams involving tricking users into registering for promotions and giveaways using infected URLs. Female users were more likely to fall for these bogus contest entries making up 9.1% of scam victims compared to 9.1% of male users.

Top Five Scams for Females in Q1 2018

  1. Fraudulent Advertisements – 48.1%
  2. Generic Phishing – 23.7%
  3. Fake Promotions or Giveaways – 9.1%
  4. Banking Payment Phishing – 8.0%
  5. Messenger Schemes – 7.4%

Staying Protected

1) The best method to protect yourself from becoming a victim of an online scam is to fact check information such as news, job opportunities, contests, and promotions before sharing it on social media. Remember, cybercriminals often create spoofed offers and websites from well known and trusted brands.

2) Always protect your mobile device with reputable security software. dfndr security provides features such as anti-phishing that alerts users to malicious links received through SMS, emails or messenger apps before you click them.

3) Finally, you can also use the dfndr lab page verification tool at dfndr.com to verify suspicious URLs.