A study of preventing email (spear) phishing by enabling human intelligence

    Publication of Creating 010

    N. Stembert, R. Choenni, M.S. Bargh, A. Padmos, F. Jansen | Conference contribution | Publication date: 07 September 2015
    Cyber criminals use phishing emails in high-volume and spear phishing emails in low volume to achieve their malicious objectives. Hereby they inflict financial, reputational, and emotional damages on individuals and organizations. These (spear) phishing attacks get steadily more sophisticated as cyber criminals use social engineering tricks that combine psychological and technical deceptions to make malicious emails as trustworthy as possible. Such sophisticated (spear) phishing emails are hard for email protection systems to detect. Security researchers have studied users' ability to perceive, identify and react upon email (spear) phishing attacks. In this study we have surveyed recent works on understanding how to prevent end-users from falling for email (spear) phishing attacks. Based on the survey we design and propose a novice method that combines interaction methods of reporting, blocking, warning, and embedded education to harness the intelligence of expert and novice users in a corporate environment in detecting email (spear) phishing attacks. We evaluate the design based on a qualitative study, in three experimental steps, by using a mockup prototype, and with 24 participants. We report on the insights gained, indicating that the proposed combination of the interaction methods is promising, and on future research directions.

    Author(s) - affiliated with Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences

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