Consumers Open One in Six Phishing Messages

As many as 59 million phishing (define) e-mail messages are sent each day, and up to 10 million of those may be opened by consumers. A study released by Iconix finds one in four phishing messages are opened.

Divided into eight categories, spoofed or phished messages had open rates ranging from 1 in 4 to 1 in 10. Fake social-network-related messages maintained 24.9 percent open rates. Other categories, including as e-cards (17.1 percent); payment (16.2 percent); financial (15.5 percent); auction (14.7 percent); information (12.9 percent); retail (12.1 percent); and dating (9.5 percent), had lower open rates.

“Late last year there were several public cases of phishing via MySpace where people using the site were pretending to be somebody else,” said Jeff Wilbur, VP of marketing at Iconix.

While the volume of e-mail purporting to be from a financial institution or payment service like PayPal remains higher than categories like social networking and e-cards, open rates for the categories hovered at 15.5 and 16.2 percent, respectively.

“The historical figure you always hear about is a bank or financial institution, [with social networking] you’re using the trust factor of friends,” said Wilbur. “It’s not necessarily just ‘enter your information here.’ There are a lot of ways for crooks to get information out of a user.”

The research was conducted by recording the e-mail behavior of 10,557 participants from May to October, 2006.

Related reading