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Arun Vishwanath

Off the Hook! Who Gets Phished and Why

A study by Arun Vishwanath and colleagues points out why we're susceptible to phishing scams and how to be avoid being snared.

“Individuals need to be extra careful when utilizing a single email account to respond to all their emails. An effective strategy is to use different email accounts for different purposes.”
Arun Vishwanath
Associate Professor of Communication

Communication researchers at four major universities have found that if you receive a lot of email, habitually respond to a good portion of it, maintain a lot of online relationships and conduct a large number of transactions online, you are more susceptible to email phishing expeditions than those who limit their online activity.

The study, "Why Do People Get Phished?" forthcoming in the journal, "Decision Support Systems and Electronic Commerce," uses an integrated information processing model to test individual differences in vulnerability to phishing.

The study is particularly pertinent, given the rash of phishing expeditions that have become public of late, the most recent involving the online marketing firm Epsilon, whose database was breached last week by hackers, potentially affecting millions of banking and retail customers.

The authors are Arun "Vish" Vishwanath, PhD, associate professor in the UB Department of Communication, College of Arts and Sciences, and an expert in consumer behavior, specifically the diffusion and acceptance of information technology; H. Raghav Rao, PhD, SUNY Distinguished Service Professor in the UB Department of Management Science and Systems, School of Management, who conducts research on decision support systems, e-business, emergency response management systems and information assurance; Tejaswini Herath, PhD, Brock University (Ont., CA); Rui Chen, PhD, Ball State University, and Jingguo Wang, PhD, University of Texas, Arlington. Herath, Chen and Wang all earned degrees from UB.

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