Brazil became a world leader in the number of phishing attacks with one in five Internet users targeted in 2020. but awareness is growing in the country, according to research.
According to the report on phishing trends in the world by cybersecurity firm Kaspersky, five countries with the highest rate of users who were hit by a data theft attack throughout 2020 were Portugal, France, Tunisia, and French Guiana. And Brazil tops the list with 28 percent of all users hit.
Phishing attacks targeted the financial sector the most and accounted for 44% of attacks detected by Kaspersky Lab.
The research also found the number of phishing attacks against mobile devices increased by more than 120% between February and March 2020 alone likely due to COVID-19 restrictions and people staying at home that led to the spike in internet usage and access to services online such as mobile banking and shopping.
Attacker techniques ranged from offers of face masks and hand sanitizers to fake websites for registrations for social assistance programs and fraudulent registration for the Covid-19 vaccine.
On the other hand, despite the growth in phishing attacks, Kaspersky noted an increased level of awareness among Internet users about cybersecurity threats. Regarding that, in 2019, over 30% of Brazilians would click a link that led to a phishing page, compared to about 20% in 2020.
Kaspersky believes this demonstrates that campaigns and warnings about this type of scam were effective.
“This means that users are more alert – but it does not mean that we do not need to evolve, as the statistics are still very bad”, said Fabio Assolini, senior security analyst at Kaspersky Brazil.
The study also showed the percentage of victims of phishing attacks in Brazil is above the world average – 20%, while the global average is 13%. Assolini explains this by the difficulty that Internet users in Brazil have recognizing fake emails. Previous research by the cybersecurity firm showed 30% of Brazilians can’t tell whether an email is genuine.
“We need to improve our digital education”, Assolini pointed out. “[Failing to recognize threats] makes us vulnerable and prone to falling into ‘must-see promotions’ and other online scams.”