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S'pore Net users can't fish out phishers

Some 83 percent of Singapore Web users are unable to spot tell-tale spelling errors in phishing scams, compared to 76 percent in India, new survey finds.

SINGAPORE--The country's online adoption is deemed one of the most advanced in the region, but a majority of its Web users still cannot recognize phishing scams, according to a new study released Wednesday.

Conducted by London-based research firm YouGov, the online survey found that 83 percent of Web users in Singapore failed to spot spelling errors on a site, which are tell-tale signs of a phishing scam.

In the poll, respondents were shown two Web site images, presented side by side, and asked to point out the fraudulent site. While 83 percent could not identify the spelling errors, 51 percent missed out on ensuring the browser address bar contained a padlock symbol, indicating that data transmitted between the computer and Web site is encrypted.

Another 28 percent were fooled into giving additional account information upon request, and 25 percent failed to notice that the URL contained an unspecified, numerical domain name.

The study also revealed that respondents in Singapore aged between 18 and 24, were more likely able to spot phishing sites with spelling errors and scored better on the test than those aged 35 years and above.

The island-state boasts a household Internet penetration rate of 76 percent.

U.S. and U.K. more vulnerable
Singapore respondents, however, still fared better than their counterparts in the United States and United Kingdom. According to the online poll, over 88 percent of Internet users in the two countries failed to identify phishing sites, topping the list of eight countries that participated in the study.

Singapore ranked sixth, while Indian respondents proved most savvy in protecting their online identities--though 76 percent were unable to spot the various signs of phishing.

Commissioned by security vendor VeriSign, the survey was conducted from May to August this year, and polled at least 1,000 respondents from each of the eight countries, which also included Australia, Denmark, Sweden and Germany.

In a report released in July, threat management vendor Fortinet noted that phishing attacks had escalated to a record high in June.