Have you ever received an email wondering if it is legitimate or not, but then decide to click on it because the advertisement or the urgent warning catches your eye? Well, many have been in that situation with some consequently becoming victims to a phishing trap.
Around 96% of phishing attempts are deployed via email and 74% of organizations suffered from a successful phishing attack (Proofpoint state of the Phish report 2021). These numbers will continue to rise if we don’t educate ourselves on phishing emails.
Over time, cybercriminals are becoming more sophisticated and are in constant search of new ways to seamlessly trick their victims. Sometimes, even the most cautious users may find it difficult to detect a phishing email, making anyone who uses email a target for phishing scams.
But why do people fall for these traps? Let us find out.
Why do we fall for them?
Before continuing, we recommend you to read our blog on the definition of phishing and its types to fully comprehend the reasoning on why the success rate of phishing emails are high.
Click here to view it!
Moving on, statistics reveal that over 4.1 billion people are email users and around 3 million emails are sent per second, meaning that over 50% of the world’s population use email and the number is expected to grow to 4.5 billion users by 2024. These high numbers encouraged criminals to focus on launching their attacks via email rather than other sources. With COVID-19, many organizations instructed their employees to work remotely for their safety, which resulted in many people depending on online communication via email. With employees receiving a large number of messages daily, this makes them more vulnerable to attacks. And when it comes to phishing, all it takes is one click to lose everything.
This brings us to why we sometimes fall for email phishing traps:
– First, is psychology: Psychology plays a huge role in why people click on a phishing email. There are times where individuals are not in a clear state of mind due to stress or being overwhelmed with work which affects their decision–making. For example, during the beginning of the pandemic, the world was in a state of frenzy, this affected many mentally and emotionally. As a result, it led to criminals taking advantage of these sensitive times to launch phishing emails, and around 18 million malware emails were sent during the start of the pandemic.
– Second, is urgency: When receiving an email promoting a sense of urgency and the need to respond quickly, it has a higher chance of being opened. This way is especially successful if the urgent message is sent from an important or familiar party, such as your hospital, insurance company, place of work, etc. But you should always check the domain of the sender before clicking on any attachment or link to determine the legitimacy of the message. Hackers are fully aware of this and have become skilled at tricking people, they usually use social engineering tactics to understand their victim fully to gain the targeted data. The most used subject lines in phishing emails are “Invoice”, “Verification required”, “[Name] sent a file”, and “Action required” lines. These lines have been successful in raising the victim’s interest or making them feel inclined to reply.
-Third, is generating interest: Sometimes you receive an intriguing email you can’t skip over. This is because the attacker has most likely done their research and sent you something guaranteed to be opened. Subject lines such as “sale” or “discounts” would grab the attention of anyone, but only those who are cautious will be safe from any damages. Triggering the victim’s curiosity and displaying the material in an interesting manner raises the chances of the email being interacted with, and an alarming number was revealed of a %67.5 of people have entered their credentials on a phishing website due to an interesting subject line or for the sender mimicking a known brand.
-Lastly, is increased sophistication: A common way to identify a fake email is by checking the spelling and grammatical errors made in the message. But recently, many cybercriminals have shifted their focus to making their emails as legitimate–looking as possible. They have sufficiently improved their techniques making their phishing emails difficult to detect. But despite this improvement, there will always be a way to differentiate a fake email from a legitimate one, either by their wording, logo, or domain. We could always be a step ahead of them.
Phishing emails continue to strike individuals and organizations and impact them financially and mentally. But understanding the main four reasons behind the successful phishing attacks could help limit them. Organizations can introduce to their employees phishing simulations to reduce successful attacks while educating them.
Be cautious and don’t fall for the phishers bait!
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