Compulsive clickers are a security risk

Posted On 23 Jan 2014
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The UK has ranked high for the ‘compulsive clickers’ category. A new research commissioned by Sourcefire, a leader in intelligent cyber security solutions and now part of Cisco, has revealed that 90 per cent of UK workers surveyed have clicked on a web link embedded in an email with two-thirds (66 per cent) admitting they very rarely first check to ensure the link is genuine. Not only does this expose the individual to a high risk of an IT security breach, it potentially leaves companies open to a hack attack as cybercriminal gangs target individuals to gain access to corporate networks and sensitive data. According to the study, caution when it comes to clicking on an unverified web link on an email is age related. 46 per cent of surveyed workers, aged between 24-30 year old, fall on the ‘compulsive clicking category.’ The following category, the ‘cautious clickers’ (44 per cent) say only occasionally click on a web link sent to them and when they do, 23 per cent of them will check to see if the link is genuine. The most cautious are those in the 55 plus age range (47 per cent). Only 10 per cent of those surveyed are in the ‘never clicks’ category who say they would never click on a web link received via an email. The issue of identity has never been more pertinent as more people are now shedding their real-world identities online and adopting digital personas. This makes it tricky to know whether an email received is from a ‘real’ person or a fraudster masquerading as a friend. Dominic Storey, technical director EMEA at Sourcefire says,” It’s frightening to see how easily users can be duped into clicking what looks like an innocent web link, but which can actually give a hacker full control over the user’s computer in a matter of minutes without the victim knowing a thing about it. For most organisations it’s a case of when they will be subjected to an IT security breach, not if. The study also revealed that 92 per cent of those surveyed are more likely to trust a web link in an email if it came from a trusted source, yet only 34 per cent of UK workers would always take precautions to ensure that the link is genuine. Worryingly, five per cent of the sample stated that they never check to see if a link is genuine and 10 per cent have no idea how to check, which can be done by hovering the mouse over the link. Storey adds,” Professional cybercrime gangs are adept at social engineering using social media to develop a profile of an individuals’ interests and circle of friends to target them, often by pretending to be a friend or family member. They know often the easiest way into any corporate network is via the weakest link in the security chain of an organisation” a staff member.”

About the Author
Brian Sims BA (Hons) Hon FSyI, Editor, Risk UK (Pro-Activ Publications) Beginning his career in professional journalism at The Builder Group in March 1992, Brian was appointed Editor of Security Management Today in November 2000 having spent eight years in engineering journalism across two titles: Building Services Journal and Light & Lighting. In 2005, Brian received the BSIA Chairman’s Award for Promoting The Security Industry and, a year later, the Skills for Security Special Award for an Outstanding Contribution to the Security Business Sector. In 2008, Brian was The Security Institute’s nomination for the Association of Security Consultants’ highly prestigious Imbert Prize and, in 2013, was a nominated finalist for the Institute's George van Schalkwyk Award. An Honorary Fellow of The Security Institute, Brian serves as a Judge for the BSIA’s Security Personnel of the Year Awards and the Securitas Good Customer Award. Between 2008 and 2014, Brian pioneered the use of digital media across the security sector, including webinars and Audio Shows. Brian’s actively involved in 50-plus security groups on LinkedIn and hosts the popular Risk UK Twitter site. Brian is a frequent speaker on the conference circuit. He has organised and chaired conference programmes for both IFSEC International and ASIS International and has been published in the national media. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk UK at Pro-Activ Publications in July 2014 and as Editor of The Paper (Pro-Activ Publications' dedicated business newspaper for security professionals) in September 2015. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk Xtra at Pro-Activ Publications in May 2018.