According to a VIPRE Security Group report, 85% of phishing emails utilized malicious links in the content of the email, and spam emails increased by 30% from Q1 to Q2 2023. Information technology organizations also overtook financial institutions (9%) as the most targeted sector for phishing in Q2 as compared to VIPRE's previous quarterly report.

Furthermore, in Q2 2023, 58% of the malicious emails detected utilized nefarious content. Likewise, 42% of these emails involved malicious links. The efficacy of malicious content also explains why so many scam emails (48%) in Q2 were business email compromise (BEC) scams, as they typically favor content over links or attachments.

The top email threat attack targets, according to the report, shifted significantly from Q1 to Q2 2023, with financial institutions falling dramatically from 25% in the first quarter to only 9% in quarter two. This decline is likely the result of financial institutions continuing to invest resources into preventing these attacks, which means a lower success rate by cybercriminals.

The report also discovered that many phishing emails utilized QR codes as a primary attack method, which diverted users to a phishing page. The increased use of QR codes suggests that users are increasingly aware of traditional email-based attack techniques, such as malicious links or attachments, forcing threat actors to switch to more unconventional methods.

While most (67%) spam emails originate in the US, cybercriminals obfuscate their location of origin to avoid detection.

Additional findings include:

  • 58% of malicious emails utilized spoof content
  • 67% of spam emails in Q2 originated in the US
  • Qakbot was the top malware family in Q2 2023

Read the full report here