A mere 5% of British citizens are able to successfully spot a phishing scam or email, a recent study has purported.
Computer Disposals Limited has published the results of their experiment which found that just 5% of respondents were able to successfully spot a phishing scam or campaign every time they were presented with a series of fake emails and messages.
Researchers compiled a list of genuine emails and text messages from the UK government, Netflix, utility companies and Amazon, which they presented amongst a list of popular phishing scams.
They asked 1,000 individuals to take the test to determine which emails and text messages were real, and which were fraudulent phishing attempts.
Interestingly, the authors of the report stated that “it appears that the British public are too sceptical when it comes to their inbox – with the majority labelling genuine emails as fakes.”
“Only 44% of people taking the quiz were able to identify the authentic emails, erring on the side of caution and marking most messages as spam.”
This would, of course, prove problematic – particularly for organisations dealing with a large volume of clients and emails. This could result in important emails or updates being lost in translation, if an employee believes them to be a scam or fraudulent.
Ben Griffin, Computer Disposal Limited’s Director has said that “over the past decade, cybercrime has risen to become a major risk for all of us – individuals and companies alike.”
“As we love more and more of our lives online, phishing scams have become one of the most prevalent types of security breaches, especially as we use multiple devices interchangeably,” Griffin said.
He continued to explain that “our data shows that only 5% of the British public are able to consistently identify phishing scam emails and texts, highlighting both how sophisticated and convincing these messages have become, as well as the need for us to constantly remain alert – especially when we are spending more time at home.”
“Vigilance is key to remaining secure,” Griffin said. “Safeguard your passwords, install recommended software updates and always treat messages with links or requesting information with due suspicion – even if they appear legitimate.”
How to Spot a Phishing Scam
If you’ve received an email that looks, feels or sounds suspicious, it’s important to check the sender’s domain. Often, scammers will attempt to spoof, or copy the domain of a popular retailer, government entity or service provider. While the email can appear to be legitimate in your general overview of the inbox, if you right-click to find out the exact domain, it’s likely that they’re copying or piggybacking off a popular domain.
They’ll often tell a story, or trick you into clicking a link or opening an attachment. These can include suspicious activity on your account, declined payment information or a fake invoice. If someone, or some company has contacted you out-of-the-blue, never open an attachment from an unfamiliar sender.
Look for spelling and grammar mistakes. Often hackers are working in a language unfamiliar to them, and you can spot a phishing campaign by either spelling or grammatical errors, or an unfamiliar tone.
If you’ve been prompted to make a sudden change in your account that you think isn’t legitimate, contact the service provider directly.