A new report by Atlas VPN has revealed that Microsoft and Zoom brands account for 80 percent of the commonly impersonated companies in the email phishing attacks in 2020.

The report noted that the Microsoft brand was used in a whopping 28,536 unique phishing attempts accounting for 70% of all last year’s brand phishing campaigns, while Zoom was exploited in 3,803 brand phishing campaigns, which constitute 9% of all such attempts.

Other brands on the list include Amazon, occupying the third spot and was taken advantage of in 2,747or nearly 7% of all phishing campaigns impersonating well-known brands.

Meanwhile, the most impersonated industries include technology (72%), telecommunications (14%), and retail (8.5%), with the report disclosing that over 12% of all last year’s phishing emails used brand impersonation as their tactics.

Commenting on the development, Ruth Cizynski, the cybersecurity researcher and writer at Atlas VPN, shares her thoughts on the situation said: “With the eruption of the global pandemic, most of our lives transferred online, and cybercriminals were quick to take advantage of the situation by launching new scam schemes and phishing attacks. When it comes to the latter, fraudsters favored brands and industries that people were relying on the most during the pandemic.”

She believes that with Microsoft being the most phished brand, it is not surprising that the technology sector dominated phishing emails last year. Companies in the technology sector, such as Microsoft, Netflix, DocuSign, LinkedIn, Apple, Dropbox, and ADP, were exploited in close to 72% of all phishing campaigns that imitated existing brands.

The technology sector is followed by the telecommunication industry. Names of telecommunication industry leaders, such as Zoom, RingCentral, eFax, Xerox, and AT&T, were used in close to 14% of such phishing attempts in 2020.

Meanwhile, companies’ names in the retail industry were utilized in 8.5% of such phishing attempts in 2020. Notable brands include the already mentioned Amazon and CVS, as well as Sam’s Club and Walmart.


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