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January 5, 2011

iPhone users most at risk from phishing

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by Brian Turner

Mobile phone users are more likely to fall for phishing scams, with iPhone users the most vulnerable group.

That’s according to research by Trusteer, who were able to access log files from a number of phishing sites and analyse them.

The surprises were two fold:

The first, that mobile users were three times more likely to enter their details on a phishing website;

The second being that iPhone users were eight times more likely to fall for the scam than Blackberry users.

Trusteer observed that mobile phone users could especially have problems determining phishing links from scam emails, because their screens were too small to display the full URL in these links.

So when phishing emails linked to a URL such as www.legitimatebank.com.phishingsite.com, only the first part suggesting the legitimate web address is visible, fooling users.

Trusteer were especially surprised by the number of iPhone users who entered their details into phishing websites, though.

According to Comscore metrics, iPhones cover around 25% of the Smartphone market.

And yet of all the mobile users who entered their login details, 65% of these were iPhone user agents.

Significantly, Blackberry OS users only entered details 8% of the time, despite that Blackberrys cover around a third of the mobile market.

Trusteer suggest that Blackberry users may be better educated about phishing attacks, due to Blackberry’s being more targeted at the enterprise market, as opposed to iPhones which are general consumer phones.

While the need to educate the general public obviously arises from such results, it also raises serious questions about how mobile OS developers can develop better tools to protect against potential phishing attacks.

This is especially the case due to mobiles being “always on” devices, which means a phishing email with a call to action can entice users to click through immediately.

Desktop users, on the other hand, who only open emails periodically, have a chance that the phishing site has already been shut down before it is accessed.

With cybercrime becoming an increasing part of internet life, the study by Trusteer highlights that better protections are needed now.

Story link: iPhone users most at risk from phishing


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