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Messages to suspicious@safeonweb.be nearly doubled in 2020

Last year, internet users sent no less than 3,225,234 messages to the e-mail address suspicious@safeonweb.be. That means more than 8,800 messages per day were sent, which is almost double compared to 2019.  That year, you sent us 1,700,000 messages.

What do we do with these 3 million messages?

It is sad that cybercriminals are sending more and more messages with the intention of defrauding internet users.  These messages come in via email, but also via text messages or social media. We obviously do not read all of the messages you send to suspicious@safeonweb.be. We subject them to automated analyses.

Links and attachments are detected first.  Out of the 3 million messages we received, we extracted now fewer than 8,545,658 links, of which 667,356 were fraudulent (phishing, fake webshops, scams, etc.).  These suspicious links are forwarded to Google Safebrowsing and Microsoft Smartscreen, which publish a warning.  If someone wants to visit these web pages they will get to see a red screen with a clear warning: Beware, the web page you are about to visit is dangerous. These messages also contained 26,109 attachments of which 4,370 were infected with a virus.

Did the corona crisis play a role?

Cybercriminals seemed to be extra active during the corona crisis.  We cannot confirm whether more phishing messages were sent during this period.  All we know for sure is that people were forwarding these messages to us more often.

In 45,195 messages, we found a keyword that was related to Corona.  This is just a minority.  We mostly saw the regular phishing messages return again and again:

  • Messages that appear to come from a parcel service and ask you to pay shipping first.
  • Messages that appear to come from banks asking you to apply for a new card or unblock your account.
  • Messages that appear to come from a government agency and promise you a premium or a benefit.
  • Messages that appear to come from services like Dropbox, PayPal or Microsoft.
  • Messages with a link to current events: face masks, holidays or a promised premium.

Learn to identify fake messages.

What can I do?

Forward any suspicious message immediately to suspicious@safeonweb.be.  The sooner we deal with the message, the fewer victims there will be.

You can now also send us images of a fake message.  Our technology can now detect URLs in images.  We encourage everyone to look at every message very critically before opening it and to think twice before clicking on a link or attachment.