Overconfident e-mail recipients helping phishing succeed

New York, Jan 9 (IANS) Most of the people believe they are smarter than those behind email phishing scams which is why so many fall easily into a trap and lose money, an Indian-origin researcher has found.

According to H.R. Rao from University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA), overconfident e-mail recipients are helping phishing succeed.

“A big advantage for phishers is self efficacy. Many times, people think they know more than they actually do and are smarter than someone trying to pull of a scam via an e-mail,” said Rao who is AT&T Distinguished Chair in Infrastructure Assurance and Security.

Today, phishing e-mails often look like messages from companies ordinary people recognise and trust.

“They’re getting very good at mimicking the logos of popular companies,” Rao noted.

In his study, Rao utilised an experimental survey that had subjects choose between the genuine and the sinister e-mails that he and his colleagues had created for the project.

Afterward, the subjects explained why they made their choices, which allowed Rao to classify which type of overconfidence was playing a role in their decision-making processes.

According to Rao, people will continue to be victimised by phishing scams until the public becomes better educated and, subsequently, less overconfident.

“Thousands of e-mails are sent out every day with the aim of harming someone or gaining access to their financial information. Avoiding that kind of damage is entirely in our own hands,” Rao suggested in a paper that appeared in the Journal of the Association for Information Systems.



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