[Infographic] 2021 Q4 phishing report shows top phishing email subjects


Phishing has been around for a long time, and it is still one of the preferred methods many hackers use to steal private data. Phishing is relatively simple for the hacker to set up and is a direct line to your computer (via email), making the potential catch very large for the hacker.

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Hackers are clever, and they use manipulation to trick users into clicking their phishing email. KnowBe4 is a security company that studied these emails last year and issued a report on the subject lines most used by attackers.

“When comparing the results from the U.S. phishing emails to those in Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA), email subjects in the U.S. appear to originate from the users’ organizations and are focused on security alerts related to passwords and internal company policy changes,” said Stu Sjouwerman, CEO, KnowBe4.

“However, in EMEA, the top subjects are related to users’ everyday tasks and the subject lines appear to be more personalized to entice the user to click. As expected, we did see some phishing email subjects related to the holidays, especially holiday shopping in particular. Employees should remain ever vigilant when it comes to suspicious email messages in their inboxes because just one wrong click can wreak havoc for an organization.”


KnowBe4 found hackers used these ten email categories globally for these emails:

  • Business
  • Online Services
  • Human Resources
  • IT
  • Banking and Finance
  • Coronavirus/COVID-19 Phishing
  • Mail Notifications
  • Holiday
  • Phishing for Sensitive Information
  • Social Networking

Top phishing email subjects were also broken out, comparing those in the U.S. to those in EMEA. In Q4 2021, KnowBe4 examined tens of thousands of email subject lines from simulated phishing tests. The organization also reviewed ‘in-the-wild’ email subject lines that show actual emails users received and reported to their IT departments as suspicious. The results are below.

phishing report knowbe4

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