Feeds

Why phishing reels punters in

User stupidity, natch

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

To tech savvy punters most phishing sites are obviously bogus. But a recent study by academics at Harvard and Berkeley reveal that 23 per cent of users only look at the content of sites when deciding whether they are legitimate or not. The presence or absence of SSL certificates and the url of sites doesn't enter into the decision of these potential dupes.

The study, Why phishing attacks work (PDF), suggests that greater user education and improved technical safeguards in upcoming browsers (both Firefox 2.0 and IE7 promise anti-phishing features) is needed in order to bring the problem of online fraud under control.

The usability study involved only a small sample of 22 users who were shown 20 websites and asked to determine which ones were fraudulent.

"We found that 23 per cent of the participants did not look at browser-based cues such as the address bar, status bar and the security indicators, leading to incorrect choices 40 per cent of the time," the researchers reports. "We also found that some visual deception attacks can fool even the most sophisticated users."

The research cites separate academic studies that suggest some phishing attacks convince up to five per cent of their recipients to provide sensitive information. Another study suggested that even when toolbars were used to notify users of potential security problems, users were tricked into providing information 34 per cent of the time.

The aim of the Harvard and Berkeley study is to help security pros better understand the attack strategies of phishing fraudsters so more effective defensive strategies can be formulated.

The Anti-Phishing Working Group received reports of 9,715 phishing websites mimicking 101 brands in January 2006, the latest month where records are available. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
George Clooney, WikiLeaks' lawyer wife hand out burner phones to wedding guests
Day 4: 'News'-papers STILL rammed with Clooney nuptials
Shellshock: 'Larger scale attack' on its way, warn securo-bods
Not just web servers under threat - though TENS of THOUSANDS have been hit
Apple's new iPhone 6 vulnerable to last year's TouchID fingerprint hack
But unsophisticated thieves need not attempt this trick
PEAK IPV4? Global IPv6 traffic is growing, DDoS dying, says Akamai
First time the cache network has seen drop in use of 32-bit-wide IP addresses
Oracle SHELLSHOCKER - data titan lists unpatchables
Database kingpin lists 32 products that can't be patched (yet) as GNU fixes second vuln
Researchers tell black hats: 'YOU'RE SOOO PREDICTABLE'
Want to register that domain? We're way ahead of you.
Stunned by Shellshock Bash bug? Patch all you can – or be punished
UK data watchdog rolls up its sleeves, polishes truncheon
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.