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By Jessica Ellis | March 2, 2023

Social media attacks targeting organizations closed out 2022 nearly 19% higher than Q4 of 2021, according to Fortra’s PhishLabs. Social platforms continue to act as a hotbed for malicious activity, leaving organizations of all sizes vulnerable to impersonation and abuse. As of Q4, businesses can expect an average of 72.54 attacks on social media per month.

PhishLabs analyzes hundreds of thousands of social media attacks every quarter to identify the top threats targeting enterprises, their brands, and their employees. In this post, we discuss the industries most prone to attack on social media and the top threat types found on those platforms.

Top Threat Types

In Q4, Impersonation represented the top threat type to businesses on social media with 36.42% of share of volume. Impersonation is frequently used as a malicious tactic due to the wide-array of brand content present on social platforms. Cyber criminals will use stolen trademarks and intellectual property to masquerade as a brand or even act as a well-known executive within a company. These malicious pages and posts can be created and removed quickly.

Cyber Threats, which includes hacking, contributed to 34.27% of Q4 volume. This is the greatest share of volume of Cyber Threats on social media since PhishLabs’ initial analysis in 2020.

Fraud maintained consistent attack volume QoQ at 28%. Looking at the category in further detail, nearly 40% of Fraud cases were Counterfeit Attacks. This threat type uses stolen or mimicked IP in conjunction with misleading sales offers in an effort to trick victims into buying fake goods or disclosing sensitive information. Counterfeit campaigns are especially prevalent during the holiday season when shopping activity is high and consumers are less suspicious of heavily discounted products.

Physical Threats and Data Leaks represented 1.02% and 0.28%, respectively.

Attacks Per Industry

Financials experienced the brunt of attacks in Q4, with nearly 67% of activity targeting either National/Regional Banks, Other Financial Services (such as investment brokerages), Cryptocurrency Credit Unions, or Payment Services.

National/Regional Banks were the most targeted category, despite a minor dip in attacks from Q3. National/Regional Banks made up 30.56% of volume in Q4. Keeping to the Financial category, Other Financial Services fell from second to third place after a decline of 5.72% in share. Other Financial Services nearly tied Cryptocurrency in volume, with the two experiencing 14.47% and 14.32% of total, respectively. Attacks on Cryptocurrency increased nearly 5% in Q4.

Attackers targeted Retail 8.15% more in Q4, contributing to 17.4% of volume. This was the largest increase in share among all categories in Q4, and made Retail the second most targeted industry. Counterfeit attacks were the primary threat-type to target Retail, contributing to 65% of attack volume.

Dating and Computer Software rounded up the top six most targeted industries, making up 5.12% and 5% of volume, respectively.

Social media attacks are convincing, easy to create, and capable of causing swift financial and reputational backlash to an affected organization. These threats can be difficult to detect as well as mitigate due to the vast volume of noise and the varying levels of evidence required for removal. In order to identify and expedite the removal of social media threats, security teams should have dedicated team members who are knowledgeable of threat-types targeting their brands and skilled in communicating with platform administrators.

Learn how you can protect your organization from social media attacks.