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Research Reveals 88 Percent of American Web Users Unable to Spot Phishing Sites

Green Address Bar Provides High Visibility Weapon in Fight Against Cyber Crime

BOSTON, MA -- (Marketwire) -- June 15, 2009 -- Internet Retailer Conference & Expo, Booth #1043 - A YouGov survey* commissioned by VeriSign, Inc. (NASDAQ: VRSN) has revealed that 88 percent of Web users in the United States are at risk from online fraud because they can't identify the different forms of phishing currently happening online.

The research asked each respondent to identify which of two Web site images presented side by side was a fraudulent phishing site. The most frequently missed "tell tale" indicator was the misspelling on the site, with 88 percent failing to spot the spelling mistakes that would have identified the phishing site. The other such tell tale indicators respondents failed to spot include:

--  No padlock symbol in the browser address bar -- 68 percent duped
-- URL containing unspecified, numerical, domain name -- 42 percent duped
-- Unnecessary request for additional account information -- 33 percent

"In today's economic environment, businesses have a hard enough time competing without having to battle fraudulent, look-alike phishing sites," said Craig Spiezle, executive director of the Online Trust Alliance. "Just one phishing attack can dramatically diminish the relationship an online business has built with its customers. For these businesses, the stakes are enormous."

Phishing scams and online fraud have created doubt and concern among online shoppers. To regain their trust, site owners need an easy, reliable way to show customers that their transactions are secure -- and that they are who they say they are. Security vendors and Internet browsers have combined forces to establish the Extended Validation (EV) standard for SSL Certificates. With this technology, the browser and certificate authority control the display, making it difficult for phishers and counterfeiters to hijack a brand and its customers.

"With nine out of 10 people in the U.S. vulnerable to phishing scams, a method for easily identifying a genuine site from a phishing site is a must for all businesses online," said Tim Callan, vice president of product marketing at VeriSign. "By adopting Extended Validation, a site owner makes it easy for Web users to see that the site they are on is genuine. When a Web user visits a site secured in this way, a high-security browser will trigger the address bar to turn green. For additional clarity, the name of the organization listed in the certificate as well as the certificate's security vendor is also displayed."

"We were blown away by the impact our EV SSL Certificate had on our company; an 87 percent higher registration rate is tremendous," said Darren Shafae, founder and vice president of Paper-Check.com. "It's one thing to encrypt transmissions online, but quite another thing to assure customers that the recipient is the intended party and not an impostor. And that's just what the EV SSL green address bar signifies."

Phishing, a nationwide issue

Of the seven countries included in the research -- the United States, Germany, Sweden, Australia, India, Denmark and the United Kingdom -- the United States is the least likely to identify the tell tale signs of a phishing site that were tested for in the survey. In addition, the United States is the only country where the youngest section of the population, those between 18 and 24, is the least likely age group to identify a phishing site.

Knowledge is key to fighting phishing. To this end, VeriSign has compiled its Top five tips to distinguish a real site from a phishing site.

Consumers should check whether or not a site is genuine and whether it is taking measures to protect their personal details by looking for the following:

1. https:// in the URL: The "s" in https:// means the site is encrypted,
so the information you enter is secured. While some phishing sites
do have a secured Web address, many do not. Therefore, site visitors
should be on the lookout for missing security on sites that should
have it.
2. The padlock icon: To be meaningful, this icon must appear in the
actual browser interface and not inside the content of the page itself.
3. Trust marks: Simple visual cues in the form of popular logos can show
that a Web site is authenticated and secured, and that a company is
4. Check the Web address: Be suspicious of any site with an unknown domain
that contains the name of a well known site in the latter part of the
Web address.
5. Green address bar: Signifies that a site has undergone extensive
identity authentication so that you can be confident it is the site it
claims to be.

Take the Phish or No Phish Challenge yourself at www.phish-no-phish.com or visit Booth #1043 at the Internet Retailer Conference & Expo for a live demonstration.

*Notes to editors

The online survey was commissioned by VeriSign and conducted by YouGov on May 20-22, 2009. 1,015 U.S. adults (aged 18+) were polled in the sample.

About VeriSign

VeriSign, Inc. (NASDAQ: VRSN) is the trusted provider of Internet infrastructure services for the networked world. Billions of times each day, VeriSign helps companies and consumers all over the world engage in communications and commerce with confidence. Additional news and information about the company is available at www.verisign.com.

Originally posted on Sun Jun 21, 2009



The only reason you'd be 100% right for now is because the extra cost isn't warranted to have a high pay off, if the low hanging fruit disappears then you will start to see EV attacks. That's assuming people stop falling for non-SSL attacks of course, and then stop falling for domain certified attacks and so on.


I think the results may be flawed because they used examples of phishing that are highly unlikely to be encountered (phishing that uses DNS vulnerabilities and man-in-the-middle attacks with valid SSL certificates). Still interesting though. It is markedly easier to be 100% that you are on the right site when using an EV certificate.

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