We're Still Stupidly Falling For Phishing Scams

You may have noticed that this week is National Cyber Security Awareness Week. Staying secure online remains largely a matter of alertness and common sense, but new survey data makes it clear that it isn't just our communications minister who is clueless when it comes to passwords and other security matters.

A study of 510 Australian small businesses commissioned by Symantec to coincide with the week suggests that while businesses are at least now more aware of malware as an issue, they're still not well-equipped to deal with it. The figure that stuck out for me was that 23% of businesses had been impacted by a phishing scam. Phishing — faking a message from a bank, telco, eBay or other organisation with your personal details to try and con you into handing them over — relies on sending out millions of messages and hoping a few people will respond, but I was surprised that the apparent level of response is that large.

Symantec's SMB director Steve Martin argues that over-familiarity may be to blame here. "I suspect that because of the prevalence of the Internet, businesses are becoming a little bit more blasé about educating their staff about the safe ways to engage in an online world," he told Lifehacker. Those presumptions are perhaps a little too optimistic."

At a hit rate of nearly one in four, I'd say that was an understatement. Protect yourself from phishing with useful resources like the phishing flowchart, and learn how to keep your PC up-to-date and secure your online transactions.


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