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The first hour of a phishing campaign is the most effective, as calls made for detection and removal of malicious websites to be reduced

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Half of the victims of phishing attacks respond within an hour of receipt of the scam message.

Calling this the ‘golden hour' of a phishing site's existence, Trusteer CTO Amit Klein said that given that a typical phishing campaign takes at least one hour to be identified by IT security vendors, when a phishing site is most effective. Within five hours, more than 80 per cent of the total pool of potential victims have responded, a figure that rises to 90 per cent after the first ten hours of a phishing attack.

He claimed that analysis of these figures shows that blocking a phishing site after five to ten hours is almost pointless. “A more effective model would prevent users from being directed to a phishing site or prevent them from entering their credentials if they do end up on a criminal site,” he said.

“As an industry, our goal should be to reduce the time it takes for institutions to detect they are being targeted by a phishing attack from hours to within minutes of the first customer attempting to access a rogue phishing page. We also need to establish really quick feeds into browsers and other security tools, so that phishing filters can be updated much more quickly than they are today. This is the only way to swiftly takedown phishing websites, protect customers and eliminate the golden hour.”

Talking to SC Magazine, Paul Wood, senior analyst at Symantec Hosted Services, said that phishing sites vary in how long they are online for but like spam websites, it is not long before they are taken offline although spam sites do tend to last longer.

He said: “With phishing sites, more often they are compromised sites so it becomes difficult to take them down and if they are online they are taken down in 24 hours anyway. However this response rate is very impressive, a response to a direct marketing will see responses in 24 hours but senders need to know of a magic time of day when they get something into an inbox otherwise it will sit in the inbox.

“With social engineering there is a lot of psychology and research into direct marketing will plug into this. It encourages employment of people to create campaigns.”

Talking about the capability of phishing websites being taken down quicker, Wood said that often a problem is that the site is hosted in another country.

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