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95 Percent of Americans Received Email with Malware and 9 Percent Opened the Attachment

According to a recent report from Halon, an email security provider, 94.7 percent of Americans received one or more emails that contained a virus, spyware or malware while nearly 9 percent opened an attachment infecting their computer or device.

The prevalence of phishing attacks and malware spread via email, social networking sites, text messaging and other means should not be underestimated. Phishing and malware are leading to compromised data and credentials which are often then used for account takeover, breaching other accounts and committing various forms of fraud. While most people have deleted messages they know to be malicious the recent Email Spam and Related User Behavior survey and report from Halon quantifies this as affecting the overwhelming majority of Americans at 94.7 percent.

Despite countless news stories and warnings about email threats delivering phishing and malware scams, a substantial portion of the population is still putting themselves at risk. According to the survey 30.2 percent of Americans opened unknown emails carrying malicious attachments while 8.8 percent opened the attachment and infected their machine. Nearly one-third of Americans have opened a suspicious email with an attachment which is cause for concern that a significant portion of people have also opened suspicious phishing emails with links leading to malware infected sites or bogus pharming sites to collect account credentials.

The Email Spam and Related User Behavior survey also reported on what subject lines were the most successful in enticing people to open the emails and what industries were most frequently impersonated as the purported senders. These malicious emails most often claimed to be coming from financial institutions and social networking sites, representing 15.9 and 15.2 percent of the emails, respectively. The next most targeted industry was online payment services at 12.8 percent. The survey found that women were more likely than men to open emails posing as invites or requests from social networks at 8.2 percent compared to 5.6 percent. Men, however, were more likely to open unsolicited bulk emails that mentioned monetary gains at 9.4 percent compared to 3.8 percent for women.

While email spam and phishing scams have been around for quite some time, it appears they will be around for quite a bit longer as these schemes are still proving successful. Even some of the oldest tricks in the book are duping people into opening emails and for some to even open attachments or follow malicious links. The best things for organizations operating the eCommerce channel to do are to continue to educate consumers on these scams, especially ones impersonating their own business, and to be diligent about recognizing account takeover when it does occur as the result of phishing or compromised consumer credentials.

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