Australians wont take the phish

It turns out that Australia is a low-level target for phishing attacks.

For many people Google is the backbone of their web experience. Through the company’s efforts to shield their search results and browsers from malicious use they have gathered a treasure-trove of statistics. They recently released a report on five years of malware and phishing protection. That other Internet backbone, Wikipedia, defines phishing as follows:

Phishing is attempting to acquire information (and sometimes, indirectly, money) such as usernames, passwords, and credit card details by masquerading as a trustworthy entity in an electronic communication.

The number of phishing attacks has been increasing, not necessarily steadily, but certainly demonstrably. According to the Google security team the sophistication of attacks has also been on the rise. However, for some reason that is not explained, Australian Internet users see few phishing attacks, especially when compared with other developed nations.

This is a wild guess, but phishing attacks are generally aimed at getting your financial passwords. I’m wondering if we see less phishing because we have relatively few banks and so security is easier for them to manage.

A question that often comes up in relation to Internet scams is why the scammers insist on being from Nigeria and using poor English. With increasing levels of sophistication, surely they can do better. Microsoft has some research which suggests the scammers deliberately use these clues in order to weed out the false-positives and leave themselves only with the most gullible marks. The theory is that

Far-fetched tales of West African riches strike most as comical. Our analysis suggests that is an advantage to the attacker, not a disadvantage. Since his attack has a low density of victims the Nigerian scammer has an over-riding need to reduce false positives. By sending an email that repels all but the most gullible the scammer gets the most promising marks to self-select…

If you’ve ever wanted to get your own back at the scammers there are some very entertaining reads from people who’ve done just that by playing the scammers along and even in some cases reversing the scam. For examples, take a look at 419 Eater and Reversescam.com. Sometimes it can feel a little like watching someone torment a puppy, but generally it’s not a bad thing to see the tables turned.

Thanks to Matt Joyce for pointing to the original Google report. 

Image: Google.

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