Top Phishing Emails

Phishing continues to be the number one method that over 90% of cybersecurity incidents and breaches happen.  Cybersecurity Awareness Training and Phishing Simulation company KnowBe4 recently posted an article on their blog about the Top-Clicked Phishing Email Subjects.  Sharing this information with your staff is one way to limit the impact of these email exploits.

Here are the top subject lines used in emails by actual cyber-attackers.

Most Common ‘In the Wild’ Attacks in Q3 2019 were:

  • Skype: New Unread Voicemail Message
  • Transaction Refund
  • [[NAME]] shared a document with you
  • Microsoft Teams: Please authenticate your account
  • Bonus payments for selected employees
  • Cisco Webex: Your account is blocked
  • Amazon: Billing Address Mismatch
  • USPS: High Priority Package: Track it now!
  • Verizon: Security Update
  • Adobe Cloud: Shared a file with you on Adobe Cloud

These are some of the best subject lines in simulated phishing emails.  While these were not emails from authentic attackers, they are good examples of the types of ploys that work well.

Top-Clicked Social Media Related Subjects in Q3 2019: 

  • LinkedIn: You appeared in new searches!, Add me to your network, Profile Views, Password Reset, Deactivation Request
  • Facebook: Your friend tagged you in photos, Someone mentioned you, Primary email changed’
  • Someone has sent you a Direct Message on Twitter!
  • Login alert for Chrome on Motorola Moto X

Top 10 Most-Clicked General Email Subjects in Q3 2019:

  1. Password Check Required Immediately
  2. A Delivery Attempt was made
  3. De-activation of [[email]] in Process
  4. New food trucks coming to [[company_name]]
  5. Updated Employee Benefits
  6. Revised Vacation & Sick Time Policy
  7. You Have A New Voicemail
  8. New Organizational Changes
  9. Change of Password Required Immediately
  10. Staff Review 2018


About the Author:

I am a cybersecurity and IT instructor, cybersecurity analyst, pen-tester, trainer, and speaker. I am an owner of the WyzCo Group Inc. In addition to consulting on security products and services, I also conduct security audits, compliance audits, vulnerability assessments and penetration tests. I also teach Cybersecurity Awareness Training classes. I work as an information technology and cybersecurity instructor for several training and certification organizations. I have worked in corporate, military, government, and workforce development training environments I am a frequent speaker at professional conferences such as the Minnesota Bloggers Conference, Secure360 Security Conference in 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, the (ISC)2 World Congress 2016, and the ISSA International Conference 2017, and many local community organizations, including Chambers of Commerce, SCORE, and several school districts. I have been blogging on cybersecurity since 2006 at

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