Email Scams are Still Depressingly Effective

By Chris Mills on at

It is the Year Of Our Lord twenty thousand and fourteen, but somehow, nearly half of all people on this email-infested landfill we call 'Earth' are still falling for simple phishing scams.

The stats come courtesy of a Google study, which looked into the success rate of 'manual hijacking' emails, which try and trick users into giving fake (but real-looking) websites their username and password. The scam is pretty simple: you get an email, with a link to a website.

When you click through (something that a frankly insane 45% of people seemingly do), you're presented with a realistic-looking imitation of a login page, where you enter all your sensitive information for nefarious hackers to gobble up. Here, people seem a little less gullible: only 14% of visitors to the fake pages actually submitted their info, meaning that the overall success rate is only around 5%. Given the scale at which email scams normally operate, though, that number is still cause for concern.

From there, Google says that hackers work quickly: 20% of compromised accounts are accessed within a half-hour, and often the hacker will change the password, then use your legitimate email account to spam your address list.

Google's tips for avoiding scammage are exactly what you'd expect: don't open suspicious links, and if you're in doubt, visit the website via a URL typed into your web browser, rather than following the link. Oh, and set up 2-factor authentication and a recovery phone number while you're at it. [Google via Huffington Post]