It turns out Apple's popularity has a dark side. Sure, the company is used and loved by millions of users, but that same loyalty means those users are prime targets for hacking and phishing scams. That's according to research from Check Point, which says the company is the most imitated brand for phishing attacks.
You've probably received an example of this--you know, the emails that purport to be from the App Store telling you about a subscription for some kind of ridiculous amount, with a link to click and dispute the charges. If you didn't already know, don't click on the link. Nothing good will ever come from it, and Apple doesn't include them when it sends you an actual receipt for a purchase.
The good news is these fake Apple emails often aren't particularly sophisticated. They're often from random email addresses that are easily detected as a scam. Still, if you're not paying close attention and you suddenly get an email that you just spent $99.99 on a subscription to some random app you've never heard of--or worse, one you have--it's no surprise you might click on a link to reverse that charge.
Of course, there are best practices when it comes to links in emails. Generally speaking, most companies won't send you a link that requires you to log in. In fact, I feel like it should probably go without saying that you should never click on those types of links.
Still, I'll repeat it. Just don't do it.
The Check Point report does highlight the importance of paying attention when it comes to protecting your personal information online. It goes on to include other familiar names on its list of "most imitated brands": Netflix, Yahoo, WhatsApp, Facebook, Microsoft, Amazon, and eBay are all tech-related companies on a list that also includes the financial services companies Chase and PayPal.
None of those names should come as a big surprise. All of them are companies with whom users are likely to have payment methods on file, and phishing scams will commonly try to get users to "update their information." As an FYI, the only safe way to do that is to enter the website address directly, and then log in.
The report is also a reminder to brands that it's important to be clear in the way they communicate with customers. The greater the size of your audience or customer base, the greater the chance someone will try to manipulate them into giving up their information. That means your responsibility to protect them is greater as well.