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Study: Beware LinkedIn Invitations, Mail Delivery Messages

Phishers favor emails that appear to be from LinkedIn friends or email systems, study says

Beware messages that appear to be invitations to connect on LinkedIn -- that's a phishing attacker's favorite ruse, according to a study published Wednesday.

The 2013 phishing study, published by security vendor Websense, offers a list of the top five subject lines used by attackers to disguise phishing emails. The list:

1. Invitation to connect on LinkedIn

2. Mail delivery failed: returning message to sender

3. Dear Customer

4. Comunicazione importante

5. Undelivered -- Mail Returned to Sender

"The list portrays how cybercriminals are attempting to fool recipients into clicking a malicious link or downloading an infected file by using business-focused and legitimate-looking subject lines," the study says. "Scammers will use any means necessary to increase the likelihood of an inspire-to-click campaign."

The study also offers a look at the geographic origin of phishing websites. China is the most frequent hoster of phishing URLs, followed by the United States, Germany, and the United Kingdom, according to Websense.

The incidence of phishing messages overall is 0.5 percent, Websense says, down from 1.12 percent in 2012.

"Today's phishing campaigns are lower in volume but much more targeted," the study says. "Cybercriminals aren't simply throwing millions of emails over the fence. They are instead targeting their attack strategies with sophisticated techniques and integrating social engineering tactics. Scammers use social networks to conduct their recon and research their prey. Once the intelligence is harvested, they use that information to carefully construct email lures and yield maximum success."

Have a comment on this story? Please click "Add a Comment" below. If you'd like to contact Dark Reading's editors directly, send us a message. Tim Wilson is Editor in Chief and co-founder of Dark Reading.com, UBM Tech's online community for information security professionals. He is responsible for managing the site, assigning and editing content, and writing breaking news stories. Wilson has been recognized as one ... View Full Bio

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