Phishers are getting better at tricking consumers into revealing bank account details, according to a study conducted by AOL and the National Cyber Security Alliance, which found that two-thirds of US consumers who had received scam e-mails thought they were from legitimate firms.
According to the research, phishing attacks aimed at identity theft now affect roughly one in four Americans (23%) each month.
Around 70% of consumers who received these phishing e-mails thought they were actually from legitimate companies.
"Phishers are getting better at tricking consumers into revealing their bank account and financial information, and most Americans can't tell the difference between real e-mails and the growing flood of scams that lead to fraud and identity theft." says Tatiana Platt, Senior Vice President and Chief Trust Officer for AOL. "Consumers need to be aware of the risk, and they need to use critical protections like anti-virus software, spyware protection, and a firewall to help protect them from online threats."
Three-quarters (74%) of respondents said they used their computers for sensitive transactions such as banking, stock trading, or reviewing personal medical information. But the study found that 81% of home PCs lack at least one of the three critical protections - updated computer virus software, spyware protection and a secure firewall - necessary to help guard against viruses, spyware, hackers and other threats.
More than half (56%) of respondents either had no anti-virus protection or had not updated it within the last week. Almost half (44%) did not have a properly-configured firewall and over a third (38%) lacked spyware protection. Yet, despite these findings, the large majority of users (83%) believed that they were safe from online threats.