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Q3 Cybersecurity Report Finds a 312% Increase in Fake News

Find out what other cyber crimes are trending and how you can stay protected.

dfndr lab released its Q3 Cybersecurity Report today revealing a 12.8% overall increase in malicious link detections this quarter. More than 5.1M URLs containing malware were discovered. That equates to 38 malicious links identified every minute or 2,300 every hour. This quarter also saw a continued trend in fraudulent advertisements connected to online scams and sharp rises in fake news and fraudulent contests.

Top 3 scams for Q3:

  1. Fraudulent advertisements– Fake ads held the top spot for the most detections once again although they were down 2.6% this quarter. Previously, in Q2, we saw an increase from 1.5M to 2M in this type of activity. The reduction of fake ads this quarter might be partially attributed to Google changing its policies in how they handle fraudulent advertisements and the implementation of better detection tools.
  2. Fake promotions/giveaways– Fake promotions and giveaways are illegitimate contests that trick users into entering in hopes of winning valuable prizes. Hackers commit fraud against entrants by using the data they provide. There was a 205.1% increase in these types of scams in Q3. One notable scheme involved offering $100 Visa gift cards impacting 377,926 people.
  3. Fake news– Bogus news stories saw a significant rise in Q3 with over 1M detections compared to around 255K last quarter, up 312.6%. Two factors could have contributed to this increase. One, fake news may have jumped during this year’s midterm elections due to the sharing of biased news stories and two, a general upward trend of fake news is occurring. One false story our security team charted was a work from home opportunity involving the popular online shopping site Amazon. The scammers targeted individuals by using their IP address to make the opportunity appear to be local. Our proprietary software detected and blocked this scam over 1M times.
Fake news survey gave surprising results

Fake News is a Growing Concern
Fake news drew national attention in 2016 during the presidential election. As a result, Congress opened an investigation into Russia’s potential interference through the use of social media platforms. Since then, there has been a disturbing increase in the number of fake news detections.  In a recent survey, dfndr lab found that 52.9% of users had encountered a fake news story online while 25.9% said they had not. The remainder were not sure about their experiences with fake news. 82% indicated they would not trust the content of a story identified as fake news, but 38.7% said they might still read a flagged story.

The report also found that 54.3% of respondents thought that exposing passwords of important accounts was more dangerous than encountering fake news filled with malicious links. These findings suggest that while the public is aware of fake news, many people may not fully understand its harmful impact.

Our Q3 Cybersecurity Report has further details on identifying online scams that can compromise your data and offer tips to help you stay protected and steps ahead of cybercriminals. Download your free copy of the report here: