Want to scam people? Or, instal some malware?

In Q4 2019, KnowBe4 analysed tens of thousands of email subject lines from simulated phishing tests along with ‘in-the-wild’ subject lines from actual emails that people received and reported to their IT departments as suspicious.

Here are the top 10 general topics used in deceptive subject lines :

  • Change of Password Required Immediately – 26%
  • Microsoft/Office 365: De-activation of Email in Process – 14%
  • Password Check Required Immediately – 13%
  • HR: Employees Raises – 8%
  • Dropbox: Document Shared With You – 8%
  • IT: Scheduled Server Maintenance – No Internet Access – 7%
  • Office 365: Change Your Password Immediately – 6%
  • Avertissement des RH au sujet de l’usage des ordinateurs personnels – 6%
  • Airbnb: New device login – 6%
  • Slack: Password Reset for Account – 6%

When examining ‘in-the-wild’ email subject lines, the company found that the most common ones are:

  • SharePoint: Approaching SharePoint Site Storage Limit
  • Microsoft: Anderson Hauck has shared a Whiteboard with you
  • Office 365: Medium-severity alert: Unusual volume of file deletion 
  • FedEx: Correct address needed for your package delivery on [[current_date_0]]
  • USPS: Your digital receipt is ready 
  • Twitter: Your Twitter account has been locked
  • Google: Please Complete the Required Steps
  • Cash App: Your Account Has Been Closed
  • Coinbase: Important Please Resolve Error Now
  • Would you mind taking a look at this invoice?

Moreover, KnowBe4 also reports that 39% of users have been falling for simulated phishing tests saying a password should be checked immediately.

The most-clicked social media deceptive subject lines referenced LinkedIn (55%) and Facebook (28%).

Email users should be “especially cautious if an email seems too good to be true, such as a giveaway,” states Stu Sjouwerman, CEO of KnowBe4.

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