Google discovered a record number of phishing sites in 2020, according to researchers at AtlasVPN. The researchers cite Google’s Transparency Report, which says the search giant detected 2.11 million phishing domains last year. That’s 25% more than the 1.69 million phishing sites discovered in 2019. On average, Google flagged more than 40,000 phishing sites each week in 2020. The researchers note that the number of malicious sites has been steadily increasing for the past five years.
“Moving back to 2010, Google detected an average of 317 dangerous sites per day,” AtlasVPN writes. “Last year, the number jumped to 5789 websites per day, representing a 1726% surge in a decade. Looking at the last decade year-by-year, the volume of phishing portals grew by 43% on average. In short, cybercriminals have been ramping up their efforts for the better part of the decade.”
AtlasVPN offers the following advice for users to avoid falling victim to these scams:
- “Pay attention to Google Ads — fraudsters can use Google Ads to appear at the top of Google searches. This is not a common occurrence but worth knowing nonetheless. You can verify if the website is genuine by the following tips.
- “Check the URL (address of the website) carefully — if the URL has errors or unusual symbols, then a red flag should go up. Fraudsters might use alphabets that have similar- looking letters that represent the authentic website letters.
- “Check if the website has an SSL certificate. To do so, make sure the portal address starts with HTTPS, not with HTTP. A site should also have a green padlock symbol before the web address. This means that the website has an SSL certificate, and the connection is encrypted. Never enter sensitive information on a website that does not have this basic security feature. Yet, even if the website is secure, it does not mean that it is not set up by fraudsters, so proceed with caution.
- “Spelling and grammar mistakes — alarm bells should ring if you notice spelling and grammar errors. Scammers rarely hire professional writers to check their copy-cat website’s content for errors. If you do find a spelling error, investigate the website in detail. You can also use URL checkers to see if the website has been flagged already. You can find many such tools by searching ‘Check URL safety’ in Google.”
It’s worth noting that phishing templates are growing more sophisticated, so you shouldn’t assume you’ll be able easily to spot a phishing site once you’re on one. New-school security awareness training can help you and your employees recognize social engineering tactics and avoid falling for phishing attacks.
AtlasVPN has the story.