Voice phishing cases up almost 550% over last 12 months; social media impersonations of brands and executives are on the rise, and credential theft email scams continue to be most common email threat type reported by employees: report

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MINNEAPOLIS , May 26, 2022 (press release) –

More Than a 5x Increase in Vishing Attacks Year-over-Year Reported

Vishing (voice phishing) cases have increased almost 550 percent over the last twelve months (Q1 2022 to Q1 2021), according to the latest Quarterly Threat Trends & Intelligence Report from Agari and PhishLabs, both of which are part of the HelpSystems cybersecurity portfolio.

In Q1 2022, Agari and PhishLabs detected and mitigated hundreds of thousands of phishing, social media, email, and dark web threats targeting a broad range of enterprises and brands. The report provides an analysis of the latest findings and insights into key trends shaping the threat landscape.

According to the findings, vishing attacks have overtaken business email compromise (BEC) as the second most reported response-based email threat since Q3 2021. By the end of the year, more than one in four of every reported response-based threat was a vishing attack, and this makeup continued through Q1 2022.

“Hybrid vishing campaigns continue to generate stunning numbers, representing 26.1% of total share in volume so far in 2022,” said John LaCour , Principal Strategist at HelpSystems. “We are seeing an increase in threat actors moving away from standard voice phishing campaigns to initiating multi-stage malicious email attacks. In these campaigns, actors use a callback number within the body of the email as a lure, then rely on social engineering and impersonation to trick the victim into calling and interacting with a fake representative.”

Additional Key Findings

  • Social media impersonation attacks are on the rise. Since Q2 2021, the volume of brand impersonations increased 339% and executive impersonations 273%. According to the findings, brands prove to be convenient targets for threat actors, especially when associated with retail counterfeit operations. However, for some unique attacks, executive accounts are preyed on to make the spoofs seem more realistic.
  • Credential theft email scams continue to be the most common email threat type reported by employees, contributing to nearly 59% of all threat types encountered. Credential theft reports increased 6.9% in volume from Q4 2021.
  • The malware landscape continues to be ever changing. Qbot was once again the payload of choice for threat actors attempting ransomware attacks, but Emotet reemerged in Q1 and was the second leading payload.
  • While nearly half of all phishing sites rely on a free tool or service for staging, Q1 2022 was the first quarter in five consecutive quarters where paid or compromised services (52%) outnumbered free solutions for the use of staging phishing sites.


“As the variety of digital channels organizations use to conduct operations and communicate with consumers expands, bad actors are provided with multiple vectors to exploit their victims,” added LaCour. “Most attack campaigns are not built from scratch; they are based on reshaping traditional tactics and incorporating multiple platforms. Therefore, to remain secure, it’s no longer effective for organizations to only look within the network perimeter. They must also have visibility into a variety of external channels to proactively gather intelligence and monitor for threats.

“Additionally, security teams should invest in partnerships that will ensure the swift and complete mitigation of attacks before they result in reputational and financial damage.”

Additional Resources

To learn more about the report findings, attend the live webinar at 2 PM EST on Tuesday, May 24 or watch on-demand: https://www.phishlabs.com/webinars/details/?commid=541642.

To access the complete Agari and PhishLabs Quarterly Threat Trends & Intelligence Report, visit: https://info.phishlabs.com/quarterly-threat-trends-and-intelligence-may-2022.

About Agari by HelpSystems

Agari restores trust to your inbox by increasing overall email deliverability and preserving brand integrity. It does this through an identity-centric approach that uniquely learns sender-receiver behavior. This model protects customers, partners, and employees from devastating phishing and socially engineered attacks, such as inbound business email compromise, supply chain fraud and account takeover-based attacks, as well as from outbound email spoofing. Visit www.agari.com to learn more.

About PhishLabs by HelpSystems

PhishLabs by HelpSystems is a cyber threat intelligence company that delivers Digital Risk Protection through curated threat intelligence and complete mitigation. PhishLabs provides brand impersonation, account takeover, data leakage and social media threat protection in one complete solution for the world’s leading brands and companies. For more information visit www.phishlabs.com.

About HelpSystems 

HelpSystems is a software company focused on helping exceptional organizations secure and automate their operations. Our cybersecurity and automation software protects information and simplifies IT processes to give our customers peace of mind. We know security and IT transformation is a journey, not a destination. Let’s move forward. Learn more at www.helpsystems.com.



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