Mobile users 3x more likely to fall prey to phishing scams

| April 9, 2011 | Reply

Are you a mobile “power user” and frequently access your email on your mobile device? Well, according to recent research by internet security firm, Trusteer, you are 3 times more likely to become a victim to email phishing scams than desktop users. Interestingly enough, iPhone users are reportedly 8 times more likely to fall prey than Blackberry users. No specific mention was made of Android, Blackberry OS or WebOS.

According to Trusteer:

1. Mobile users typically arrive first after the phishing e-mails are sent out. “This makes sense since mobile users are ‘always on’ and are most likely to read e-mail messages as soon as they arrive. Meanwhile, desktop users only read messages when they have access to their computer,” wrote Trusteer CEO Mickey Boodaei.

“Also, most fraudulent e-mails call for immediate action. For example, they usually claim that suspicious activity has been detected in the user’s account and that immediate action is required. Most victims who fall for this ploy will visit the phishing site quickly.”

This is crucial, since internet providers and web hosts watch for phishing-style activity on their networks and often act quickly to block phishing sites.

In a Marketplace Tech Report interview, internet security expert Anup Ghosh warned that one of the most insidious parts of e-mail phishing is that the fake alert e-mail might actually say the company is notifying you in response to a recent publicized security breach — that is, the one they perpetrated. “It’s a perfect cover,” Ghosh noted.

2. Mobile users are three times more likely than desktop users to enter login information. The good news is that most people (mobile or not) don’t enter any login information when they land on a phishing site. But among those who do, mobile users clearly were more likely to take this step into the phishing trap.

3. iPhone users are eight times more likely than BlackBerry users to access phishing sites. According to ComScore’s latest figures, there are still more BlackBerry phones than iPhones in use in the U.S. market. According to Boodaei, it’s “equally difficult to spot phishing websites on BlackBerry and iPhone devices.”

So why the disparity? Boodaei speculates that many BlackBerry users are business users who were issued their BlackBerry by their employer, ostensibly with at least some security training. In contrast, the iPhone is overwhelmingly a consumer device.

How to protect yourself: Be skeptical of any e-mails that claim to come from companies that you do business with. Although phishing attempts are most likely immediately after a data breach, they can occur weeks or months later. So remain vigilant. Logos, e-mail addresses, and other visual clues to authenticity can be faked.

Never click a link in an e-mail message that you don’t trust 100%. Many web browsers (including mobile browsers) can be “infected” by malicious code just by accessing a website. But if you do click a link in an e-mail, make sure you never enter personal information on the resulting website.

If you receive what may be a phishing attempt and have questions about whether your account may have been compromised, do this: Open a fresh Web browser window (on your computer or phone), access the real website of the company in question and log in to your account that way. Then check whether they’ve issued any security alerts.

Or just look up the company’s phone number and call them, an action that’s especially easy from your mobile phone. Just make sure you don’t just call whatever phone number is listed in the e-mail message.

Source: Trusteer Via: CNN Tech

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Co-owner and PR guy for GizmoNinja.com. I’m happily married and a father to a wonderful (most of the time) son. I work in the E9-1-1 software/data industry by day and am a tech loving geek in my spare time. I’m interested in all things tech, but am big into Android especially. I dabble in a little of everything – Android development, PC development, web development, etc – but am a master of none (not even close)… But I have fun doing it anyway! =P