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2018 Most Successful Phishing Lines…

KnowBe4 reports every quarter on the top-clicked phishing emails. Here we have the results for Q4 2018. We track three different categories: general email subjects, those related to social media and 'in the wild' attacks. The results come from a combination of the simulated phishing emails used by our customers as well as from the millions of users that click our Phish Alert Button to report suspicious emails to their IT department.

Trends That Persisted Throughout 2018

In reviewing the Q4 2018 most clicked subject lines, trends were easily identified; five subject line categories appeared quarter-over-quarter throughout 2018, including:

  • Deliveries

  • Passwords

  • Company Policies

  • Vacation

  • IT Department (in-the-wild)

The Subject Lines Tell Us Users Are Concerned About Security

“Clicking an email is as much about human psychology as it is about accomplishing a task,” said Perry Carpenter, chief evangelist and strategy officer at KnowBe4. “The fact that we saw ‘password’ subject lines clicked four out of four quarters shows us that users are concerned about security. Likewise, users clicked on messages about company policies and deliveries each quarter showing a general curiosity about issues that matter to them. Knowing this information gives corporate IT departments tangible data to share with their users and to help them understand how to think before they click.”

Top 10 Most-Clicked General Email Subjects in Q4 2018: 

  1. Password Check Required Immediately/Change of Password Required Immediately 19%

  2. Your Order with Amazon.com/Your Amazon Order Receipt 16%

  3. Announcement: Change in Holiday Schedule 11%

  4. Happy Holidays! Have a drink on us. 10%

  5. Problem with the Bank Account 8%

  6. De-activation of [[email]] in Process 8%

  7. Wire Department 8%

  8. Revised Vacation & Sick Time Policy 7%

  9. Last reminder: please respond immediately 6%

  10. UPS Label Delivery 1ZBE312TNY00015011 6%


Most Common 'In the Wild' Attacks in this period were:

  • Apple: You recently requested a password reset for your Apple ID 

  • Employee Satisfaction Survey

  • Sharepoint: You Have Received 2 New Fax Messages

  • Your Support Ticket is Closing

  • Docusign: You've received a Document for Signature

  • ZipRecruiter: ZipRecruiter Account Suspended

  • IT System Support

  • Amazon: Your Order Summary

  • Office 365: Suspicious Activity Report

  • Squarespace: Account billing failure

Check out the full infographic below for more insight into this year’s “most phished.”

For information or pricing on KnowBe4 phish testing for your employees, contact us today.