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How good are we at detecting a phishing attack? Investigating the evolving phishing attack email and why it continues to successfully deceive society

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journal contribution
posted on 15.03.2022, 16:53 by Fiona CarrollFiona Carroll, John Ayooluwa Adejobi, Reza Montasari
Phishing attacks are on the increase. The fact that our ways of living, studying and working have drastically changed as a result of the COVID pandemic (i.e., almost everything being done online) has created many new cyber security concerns. In particular, with the move to remote working, the number of phishing emails threatening employees has increased. The 2020 Phishing Attack Landscape Report (Greathorn: 2020 Phishing attack landscape. https://info.greathorn.com/report-2020-phishing-attack-landscape/, 2020) highlights a sharp increase in the frequency of attempted phishing attacks. In this paper, we are interested in how the phishing email attack has evolved to this very threatening state. In detail, we explore the current phishing attack characteristics especially the growing challenges that have emerged as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The paper documents a study that presented test participants with five different categories of emails (including phishing and non phishing) . The findings from the study show that participants, generally, found it difficult to detect modern phishing email attacks. Saying that, participants were alert to the spelling mistakes of the older phishing email attacks, sensitive information being requested from them and any slight change to what they were normally used to from an email. Moreover, we have found that people were not confident, worried and often dissatisfied with the current technologies available to protect them against phishing emails. In terms of trust, these feelings alerted us to the increasing severity of the phishing attack situation and just how vulnerable society has become/ still is.

History

Published in

SN Computer Science

Publisher

Springer

Version

VoR (Version of Record)

Citation

Carroll, F., Adejobi, J.A. and Montasari, R. (2022) 'How good are we at detecting a phishing attack? Investigating the evolving phishing attack email and why it continues to successfully deceive society', SN Computer Science, 3(2), pp.1-10.

Electronic ISSN

2661-8907

Cardiff Met Affiliation

  • Cardiff School of Technologies

Cardiff Met Authors

Fiona Carroll

Copyright Holder

© The Authors

Language

en