Eighty-six per cent of Australian web users are at risk from online fraud, according to recent research conducted by VeriSign.
The YouGov survey showed that Australians were one of the most vulnerable nations, alongside the UK and US, whilst the residents of Germany and Sweden are the savviest in protecting their identities and personal details.
The survey asked more than 8000 respondents across nine countries to ‘spot the difference’ between real and fake websites from VeriSign's recently launched the Phish or no Phish (www.phish-no-phish.com) challenge. The findings showed the vulnerability of internet users globally.
Scare tactics by fraudsters remains an effective form of phishing for Australian consumers. Despite efforts by banks and online retailers alerting customers not to share their personal information online, almost a quarter (23 per cent) of Australians still fall into this trap.
"Our research tested the applicability and understanding of a variety of phishing methods Australian consumers need to be aware of," said Armando Dacal, director, authentication services, VeriSign Asia Pacific.
"Sneaky strategies such as imitation websites that try and phish your personal details have been shown to work across all demographics, particularly on the age group 45-54 years."
The research revealed that 45-54-year-olds were 25 per cent less likely to spot a fake website than other age groups. Different age groups were susceptible to different forms of scams; the over 65-year-olds are more than twice as likely to fail to check that they are entering their details into a site that has the correct URL, with 43 per cent failing to pick up the inaccurate URL addresses. This statistic compares to 16 per cent of the savvier 18-24-year-olds who performed strongly on this point.
The younger age group, however, is more likely to respond to scare tactics to give away their personal details with more than a quarter (26 per cent) failing to identify the fake phishing website. Across the board, spelling mistakes were overlooked as being a clear indicator of a fake website, with 87 per cent of respondents missing the obvious errors that would never be found on a valid company site.
"With almost nine out of 10 people in Australia vulnerable to phishing scams, a method to easily identify a genuine site from a phishing site is a must for all businesses online," said Dacal.