Attention those who use WhatsApp, Telegram, Viber and Hangouts!

Anonymized data voluntarily provided for Android users by cybersecurity firm Kaspersky showed which messaging apps are popular among phishing scammers. The largest proportion of malicious links detected between December 2020 and May 2021 were sent via WhatsApp (84.9 percent), followed by Telegram (5.7 percent).

According to the research, messaging apps surpassed social networks by 20 percent in terms of popularity among users in 2020 and became the most popular communication tool. Survey results also show that messaging apps reached 2.7 billion people globally in 2020 and are expected to reach 3.1 billion by 2023. This corresponds to almost 40 percent of the world’s population.

Kaspersky Internet Security for Android has added a new Secure Messaging feature that prevents users from opening malicious links they receive in messaging apps (WhatsApp, Viber, Telegram, Hangouts) and via SMS. Kaspersky analyzed anonymous clicks on phishing links in messaging apps and recorded 91,242 detections worldwide between December 2020 and May 2021.

According to statistics, Kaspersky Internet Security for Android detected the highest number of malicious links in WhatsApp, partly because it is the most popular messaging program in the world. Russia (42 percent), Brazil (17 percent) and India (7 percent) received the largest share of such messages.


Among Kaspersky Internet Security for Android users, Telegram had the least detection. However, the detections were geographically similar to WhatsApp. The highest number of malicious links were detected in Russia (56 percent), India (6 percent) and Turkey (4 percent). The high numbers in Russia are probably due to the increasing popularity of this practice in the country.

According to statistics, Viber and Hangouts encountered fewer registered detections. The main difference between them emerged in the regional representation. In Viber, the highest detection was determined in Russia with 89 percent, Ukraine with 5 percent and Belarus with 2 percent. Most Hangouts detections were from the US (39 percent) and France (39 percent).

In terms of the number of phishing attacks recorded per user on WhatsApp, Brazil (177) and India (158) took the lead. At the same time, Russian users took the lead in the number of detections in Viber (305) and Telegram (79) compared to other countries.


Tatyana Shcherbakova, Kaspersky Senior Web Content Analyst, said of the research:

“Statistics show that instant messaging app phishing is still one of the most popular tools among scammers. This is partly due to the wide popularity of these applications, as well as the ability to use the built-in functions of applications to carry out attacks. Sometimes it can be difficult to determine if an attack is phishing, as the difference can only be one character or a minor bug. Using anti-phishing technologies as well as being vigilant for such threats is a reliable tool in the fight against phishing in messaging apps.”


Follow these simple tips to reduce the risk of getting scams and malicious links through messaging apps:

– Be careful, check the links for typos or other irregularities.

– It’s common practice for scammers to ask users to share a malicious link with their link that looks legitimate as if it came from someone they know. Be aware of these, do not share suspicious links with your contacts.

– Scammers often use WhatsApp and other messaging tools to communicate with users from a legitimate source (for example, various marketplaces and accommodation reservation services). Even if the messages and websites look genuine, the links will likely have misspellings or redirect you to a different place.

– Keep in mind that even if the message is from your best friends, their accounts may have been hacked as well. In any case, be careful. While the message may seem friendly, be wary of the links and attachments it contains.

– Install a reliable security solution that will automatically fix most problems and alert you if necessary, and follow its advice. (Haberturk)