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BizReport : Email Marketing : November 07, 2006

Phishing Has Greater Hold

A new study indicates more users may be falling victim to phishing attacks than previously thought. Researchers at the Indiana University School of Informatics found that about 14% of users may be responding to each phishing attack. Previously, it was though phishers only received information from about 3% of the population per year.

by Kristina Knight

Why the sudden jump? The researchers don’t believe this is a jump, rather they think their results are simply more accurate than previous reports. They simulated actual phishing attacks using well-known online entities like eBay. The researchers believe their numbers are more accurate because many users don’t realize they have been attacked or given their information to an untrusted third party. Another belief is that many users are reluctant to report that they have fallen victim to a phishing attack.

One finding is that “spear phishing” is gaining ground. In this type of attack, a phishers sends an email to a user that users may want. Sending a message like, “Can you do overnight shipping?” and providing a link for the users to click. Once the user clicks the link, the phisher gains access to their personal information.

IU Researcher Jacob Ratkiewicz said (via Center for Media Research), "We think spear phishing attacks will become more prevalent as phishers are more able to harvest publicly available information to personalize each attack. . .And there's good reason to believe that this kind of attack will be more dangerous than what we're seeing today."

For researchers the study results indicate the need for greater vigilance. Creating protected databases, culling lists and sticking with other email protocols may be the only way to protect customers and keep them happy with your service in the long run.

Tags: email filtering, email marketing, phishing

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