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Phishing or data breaches? Which should you be worried about?

As of late, there has been a lot of talk about data breaches and online security failures. Naturally these instances can be concerning due to their involvement with their customers, like you! It is important to secure your network and be aware of any gaps that may be taken advantage of, however it is also important to watch out for phishing attempts, some believe even more so.

Recently, Google and UC Berkeley researchers have stated that the real fear should lie with the phishing hook waiting for unsuspecting persons. While data breaches can be devastating, it is thought that phishing can lead to more devastating results in the end, for example losing access to accounts and having your life’s work or personal documents/information out of reach. A strong example would be the loss of your Google account, that most persons now use regularly and hold superfluous  amounts of life activities and records on. Phishing generally has a much higher encounter rate than data breaches.

Last year Google did a study, with their services as the focal point, to study the commonalities of phishing, key logging, and data breaches. Through the study, it was noticeable that phishing was much more relevant than key logging or data breaches. Through the process of this study, the gained knowledge was put to use almost immediately, helping to secure around 67 million Google accounts from possible abuse.

Google used large amounts of sources to help discern accounts that have already been compromised by key logging, phishing and data breaches, and it became known that most of those using phishing kits reside in the following order.

  • Nigeria
  • United States
  • Morocco
  • South Africa
  • United Kingdom
  • Malaysia

The basis of the phishing attacks, involve a false sense of insecurity. They are emails or something of the like, that state there is a problem and that the message can take you to the solution. These messages are often portrayed very convincingly which tends to be the reason they are believed more often than naught. Another part of the ponies tricks is using Google against itself. Often the messages attempt to gain excess forms of information under the premise of being Google asking for these other forms of information. The other forms of information include IP addresses, device make and model, phone numbers, and location, all of these things are something Google may ask for at times, meaning you need to be that much more vigilant. Through gaining access to these other forms of information, those doing the phishing can extend their area of activity and possibly cause even more of a stir-up on your life.

 

Google found that, while data breaches can be a serious problem, there has only been about 7% of accounts that experienced data breaches, and those accounts have long since been inactive before being breached. In saying that, key logging and phishing accounted for around 12 or 25% of account passwords being used by persons other than the account owners. Most of the phishing victims were in the United States, while Brazil and India being the majority of key logging victims.

No matter the form of security breach, it’s important to continually be conscious of your activity online, and ensure your keeping yourself, life, and information safe. 

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