Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Risk

3 Signs You're Phishing Bait

Beware, introverts and overconfident people. Phishers love to fool you, email security researchers say.

10 Top Password Managers
10 Top Password Managers
(click image for slideshow)
Are you overconfident, introverted or female? Then you might be more susceptible to phishing attacks, in which emails with malicious links or attachments are disguised to make them appear to be legitimate.

Those findings come from "Keeping Up With the Joneses: Assessing Phishing Susceptibility in an E-mail Task," a research paper that's due to be presented at the International Human Factors and Ergonomics Society Annual Meeting next month. The study, which was authored by five researchers at North Carolina State University (NC State), is part of a phishing-defense research project funded by the National Security Agency.

For the study, the NC State researchers combined personality assessments with tests of students' ability to correctly classify emails as being legitimate or suspicious in targeting for deletion. They also assessed people's ability to mark as "important" emails that required responses or follow-on actions.

[ Are you scam savvy? Protect yourself: How To Spot A Facebook Scam. ]

"The results showed a disconnect between confidence and actual skill, as the majority of participants were not only susceptible to attacks but also overconfident in their ability to protect themselves," said Kyung Wha Hong, the lead author of the paper, in a statement. Notably, 89% of the study participants said they were skilled at recognizing malicious emails, but researchers saw 92% of participants misclassify at least some phishing emails. Furthermore, 52% of participants misclassified over half of the phishing emails, and half of participants deleted at least one legitimate email, believing it to be malicious. All told, only 2% of participants managed to not mishandle either phishing or legitimate communications.

Thus the "Joneses" research paper's conclusion: "gender, dispositional trust, and personality appear to be associated with the ability to correctly categorize emails as either legitimate or phishing."

Paper co-author Christopher B. Mayhorn, an NC State psychology professor, said the dispositional trust finding -- which refers to people's self-assessment of their own expertise -- wasn't a surprise, but that the personality results were. He said the verdict's still out on whether women are more likely phishing victims than men, owing to the groups of students involved having hailed only from the university's psychology and computer science (CS) departments.

Previous
1 of 2
Next
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Mathew
50%
50%
Mathew,
User Rank: Apprentice
8/21/2013 | 3:17:42 PM
re: 3 Signs You're Phishing Bait
David, the answer is yes. So far, they're planning follow-on studies with professionals, and have preliminary (though as yet unanalyzed) data from a government agency.
D. Henschen
50%
50%
D. Henschen,
User Rank: Apprentice
8/16/2013 | 2:59:20 PM
re: 3 Signs You're Phishing Bait
I have developed special methodologies for automatically detecting pfishing attempts and am launching a company that is sure to make millions of dollars as a cloud service. I have several investors lined up, but we need a bit more venture capital to complete development. An investment of just $10,000 will secure you a 51% stake in the company and a guaranteed profit stream of hundreds of thousands of dollars per year. If you would just respond with your name and social security number...
David F. Carr
50%
50%
David F. Carr,
User Rank: Apprentice
8/16/2013 | 1:31:56 PM
re: 3 Signs You're Phishing Bait
Do the researchers plan to do a follow up study with a broader pool of people?
Laurianne
50%
50%
Laurianne,
User Rank: Apprentice
8/14/2013 | 9:12:18 PM
re: 3 Signs You're Phishing Bait
I wonder how many man hours we all put in advising family members about phishes. I know some of them look quite convincing to my parents, who are not introverted or overconfident. Age surely factored into this study as well.
OtherJimDonahue
50%
50%
OtherJimDonahue,
User Rank: Apprentice
8/14/2013 | 8:10:54 PM
re: 3 Signs You're Phishing Bait
I know an older woman who fell for a phishing scheme and got money taken from a bank account. I had wondered who fell for such things...

A nice lady and more, I think, naive than overconfident. This was several years ago, and I'd say the phishing attempts I've received have gotten MUCH more sophisticated since then. (Her identity also was stolen for a Twitter account recently, but that's another story.)

Jim Donahue
Managing Editor
InformationWeek
Why Cyber-Risk Is a C-Suite Issue
Marc Wilczek, Digital Strategist & CIO Advisor,  11/12/2019
DevSecOps: The Answer to the Cloud Security Skills Gap
Lamont Orange, Chief Information Security Officer at Netskope,  11/15/2019
Attackers' Costs Increasing as Businesses Focus on Security
Robert Lemos, Contributing Writer,  11/15/2019
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Write a Caption, Win a Starbucks Card! Click Here
Latest Comment: This comment is waiting for review by our moderators.
Current Issue
Navigating the Deluge of Security Data
In this Tech Digest, Dark Reading shares the experiences of some top security practitioners as they navigate volumes of security data. We examine some examples of how enterprises can cull this data to find the clues they need.
Flash Poll
Rethinking Enterprise Data Defense
Rethinking Enterprise Data Defense
Frustrated with recurring intrusions and breaches, cybersecurity professionals are questioning some of the industrys conventional wisdom. Heres a look at what theyre thinking about.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2014-5118
PUBLISHED: 2019-11-18
A Security Bypass Vulnerability exists in TBOOT before 1.8.2 in the boot loader module when measuring commandline parameters.
CVE-2019-12422
PUBLISHED: 2019-11-18
Apache Shiro before 1.4.2, when using the default "remember me" configuration, cookies could be susceptible to a padding attack.
CVE-2012-4441
PUBLISHED: 2019-11-18
Cross-site Scripting (XSS) in Jenkins main before 1.482 and LTS before 1.466.2 allows remote attackers to inject arbitrary web script or HTML in the CI game plugin.
CVE-2019-10764
PUBLISHED: 2019-11-18
In elliptic-php versions priot to 1.0.6, Timing attacks might be possible which can result in practical recovery of the long-term private key generated by the library under certain conditions. Leakage of a bit-length of the scalar during scalar multiplication is possible on an elliptic curve which m...
CVE-2019-19117
PUBLISHED: 2019-11-18
/usr/lib/lua/luci/controller/admin/autoupgrade.lua on PHICOMM K2(PSG1218) V22.5.9.163 devices allows remote authenticated users to execute any command via shell metacharacters in the cgi-bin/luci autoUpTime parameter.