Roger's Security Blog

As Chief Security Advisor of Microsoft EMEA - lets share interesting security information

Consumer Trust in e-Business

Consumer Trust in e-Business

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If the light of the latest outreach we did around scam (Lottery Scam – The voice of the victim), Research firm Ipsos was retained to conduct research with consumers in Germany, Italy, Denmark, UK and The Netherlands. About 3'500 users were contacted and here are some of the highlights (well, lowlights?):

  • 28% of people said they do not feel safe on the Internet
  • 67% said they either had not heard of, or had heard of but did not know about phishing (58% identify theft, 67% Nigerian bank fraud)
    • This compares to 'only' 36% who said they had not heard of, or had heard of but did not know about lottery scams
  • 23% said they think they are likely to be a victim of an Internet scam that will cost them money. This was actually impressive. ¼ is telling us that they expect to be a Mr. Ericson (see the blog post referenced above).
    • This compares to 26% saying that they thought there was a likelihood that their house could be burgled
  • 31% said they expected their identify to be used against their will
  • 35% of people are made more reluctant to use the Internet as a result of scams. So we already lost ⅓ of the potential customers.
  • 47% said they are less likely to buy from the Internet. Again, half of the consumers lost.
  • 3% said they have lost money to scammers over the last 12 months

66% said they had received emails from unknown senders, of them:

  • 50% said they had received a lottery scam email or an email from a well known company/brand telling them they had won money
  • 31% said they had received an email from a well known company/brand telling them they had won money

Of the 1,194 people that said they had received emails telling them they had won money in a lottery or draw:

  • 16% say they have opened at least some of the lottery scam emails they have received
    • Of them, 10% have replied to a lottery scam email
    • 20% have opened links in lottery scam emails
    • 67% said they thought lottery scam emails looked professional/authentic
  • 17% believe at least some lottery scam emails are genuine
    • 4% believe all or most are genuine

Let's do some math. Let's say that you send 100'000 "You won in the lottery"-mails per month. Let's say 5'000 of them are opened (16% open at least some). 10% - 500 will reply to you. If you are able to get 25% of them (and I think that this is not unreasonable), you will catch 150 people. If each one of those is losing €50'000 (similar to Mr. Ericson above), you will make € 7'500'000 a month by sending out 100'000 mails. However, studies show that the average is around € 5'000 – then the sum would be € 750'000 which is still good enough and 100'000 mails is not too much…

Now, if you look at the Economy of Cybercrime, the question about the cost factor immediately pops up. The monetary cost of the crime is rather low. You need a phone some paper, a PC and that's more or less it. The last point is about the likeliness of being sent to jail. So, how much do they get? The penalties for fraud vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. In 2005 an Australian was sentenced to 5 years and 3 months jail for lottery scams. EFFC (the Nigerian Economic and Financial Crime Commission) has prosecuted scammers which have been sentenced to over 10 years of jail in many instances. Do you see now, why I think that working with Law Enforcement is crucial?

Roger

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