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Half the victims of phishing emails respond to fraudulent emails within an hour of the receipt of scam messages, according to to a study by transaction security firm Trusteer.

Within five hours, more than 80 per cent of the total pool of potential victims have responded, a figure that rises to 90 per cent after the first 10 hours of a phishing attack.

The findings have implications for the fight against fraudulent websites that attempt to hoodwink the unwary into handing over online banking credentials or similar sensitive information. Banks and information security suppliers need to work together to identify, block and take down scam websites as quickly as possible or else the damage may already be done.

"The fact that so many internet users visit a phishing website within such a short period of time means that blocking a phishing website – which is sometimes a cracked legitimate site – within the [first] golden hour has become absolutely critical," Trusteer chief technology officer Amit Klein said. "Blocking a phishing site after five to 10 hours is almost irrelevant."

Trusteer's Rapport browser lock-down transaction technology is offered as a voluntary download by 50 banks worldwide, including NatWest and HSBC in the UK, so it has a commercial interest in stressing the need for pro-active defences against phishing attacks.

This point is worth bearing in mind but does not negate the findings of its research or, in particular, its conclusion that the swift take-down of phishing sites is essential in combating this type of banking fraud. ®

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