Though there are several ways how hackers sneak into victims’ computer networks, phishing (or similar-looking websites, and email id extensions, continues to be the most favourite and fastest-growing Internet crime.

The attacks are varied and well-diversified. The fact that attackers attacked in the garb of over 1,000 different organisations. The number of brand impersonation attempts breached the one-billion mark. More than half of the impersonation attempts were made by around 20 well-known brands, according to the Cloudflare’s 2023 Phishing Threats Report.

“While business email compromise (BEC) losses have topped $50 billion, corporate organisations are not the only victims that attackers are after. The real implications of phishing go beyond Fortune 500’s and global companies, extending to small and local organisations as well as the public sector,” the report by cybersecurity solutions company Cloudflare said.

Hackers are also targeting political parties big time using the phishing technique.

“Regardless of an organisation’s size, industry, or sector, the report revealed that threat actors who leverage phishing campaigns have two major objectives – to achieve authenticity and legitimacy in the eyes of the victim; and to persuade victims to engage or click,” it said.

The outcome of the report reflect this. “Malicious links were the No. 1 threat category, comprising 35.6 per cent of the detected threats, while identity deception threats too witnessed a sharp growth,” it said.

Microsoft has emerged as the top bet of the hackers, followed by Google, Salesforce, and Notion.

“Phishing is an epidemic that has permeated into the farthest corners of the Internet, preying on trust and victimising everyone from CEOs to government officials to the everyday consumer,” Matthew Prince, CEO at Cloudflare, said.

“Email messages and malicious links are nefarious partners in crime when it comes to the most common form of Internet threats. Organisations of all sizes need a Zero Trust (trusting no one when it comes to securing a network) solution that encompasses email security,” he said.

“When this is neglected, they are leaving themselves exposed to the largest vector in today’s threat landscape,” he said.

The report is based on the information collected from over 112 billion threats that Cloudflare’s global network blocks daily. The firm assessed a sample of more than 279 million email threat indicators, 250 million malicious messages, and over one billion instances of brand Impersonation.