Information Technology

The top 10 most-clicked phishing emails

By KnowBe4
Information Technology
Published: 11 October 2017

The top 10 global phishing email subject lines for Q3 2017 have been released by KnowBe4. The results this quarter were a mix of personal and company notifications, showing email continues to be an effective way to phish users. The company examined tens of thousands of email subject lines from simulated phishing tests to uncover just what makes a user want to click.

The top 10 most-clicked general email subject lines globally for Q3 2017 include:

  1. Official Data Breach Notification – 14%
  2. UPS Label Delivery 1ZBE312TNY00015011 – 12%
  3. IT Reminder: Your Password Expires in Less Than 24 Hours – 12%
  4. Change of Password Required Immediately – 10%
  5. Please Read Important from Human Resources – 10%
  6. All Employees: Update your Healthcare Info – 10%
  7. Revised Vacation & Sick Time Policy – 8%
  8. Quick company survey – 8%
  9. A Delivery Attempt was made – 8%
  10. Email Account Updates – 8%

*Capitalisation is as it was in the phishing test subject line
*Email subject lines are a combination of both simulated phishing templates created by KnowBe4 for clients, and custom tests designed by KnowBe4 customers

“Phishing attacks are responsible for more than 90 per cent of successful cyber attacks and the level of sophistication hackers are now using makes it nearly impossible for a piece of technology to keep an organisation protected against social engineering threats,” said Perry Carpenter, chief evangelist and strategy officer. “It is clear that humans are the weakest link in an organisation’s security programme and Cyber Security Awareness Month is the perfect time to remind them of the need to educate all of their employees to ensure they do in fact become their strongest line of defence.”

In addition to the Top 10 most-clicked general email subject lines, the report also evaluated the Top 10 global social networking subject lines for Q3 2017. These subject lines represent simulated phishing tests that KnowBe4 clients sent to a user’s inbox as if they were coming from a social media site and reflecting some sort of account activity. Following in the footsteps from Q2, four of the top 10 spots again went to LinkedIn, which users often have tied to their work email addresses. This, too, plays into the human psyche, as people want to connect and manage their reputation on their social networking sites so often open and interact with emails from the sites. LinkedIn poses an interesting dilemma for organisations and their employees as it is important to both have an updated and active presence on LinkedIn, yet the platform is obviously highly targeted by cyber criminals for social engineering and phishing activities.

“By playing into the human psyche, hackers will successfully continue to infiltrate an organisation through a phishing email,” said Perry Carpenter. “Phishing attacks are smart, personalised and timed to match topical news cycles. Businesses have a responsibility to their employees, their shareholders and their clients to prevent phishing schemes.”

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