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EDUCAUSE Security Professionals Conference 2006. Summary: The Phishing Ecosystem: Analyzing the Dynamics for Maximum Defense

The Phishing Ecosystem: Analyzing the Dynamics for Maximum Defense
Cathy Hubbs, IT Security Coordinator, George Mason University
Darlene Quackenbush,  Information Security Officer, James Madison University
Andrew Klein, E-mail Threat Research Manager, Sonicwall
This corporate presentation was essentially an overview of the Phishing ecosystem with representatives from two institutions.
Phishers need the following to create and implement an attack.
-      Email list
-      Develop the attack
-      Locate sites to send phishing email from (compromised machines - botnets)
-      Locate sites to host the phishing site – usually 5-10-20 sites
-      Launch the coordinated attack
-      Collect info
-      Transform into cash
Typical attack goes out to 2million email addresses
5% get to end user (100.000)
5% click on the link
2% enter data
Good for $100K
In reality, phishing kits are available and there are a number of phishing gangs
9715 phishing sites in Jan 06 
34% are US 
31% on “real” web servers that were hacked -
Only need to run the phish for 8 hours.
Eighty-two percent of incoming mail is still spam, virus, etc.  These spurious emails need to be caught and quarantined.  Most institutions look for some technical help to block the phish emails.  However, technology can not stop the problem.
Why students are more at risk:
  • Some students are impulsive and gullible
  • Students are trying a lot of new things – so they tend to be more socially open and technically experimental and will reply to something that comes in IM etc.
  • Nigerian scams – social engineering scams have been around a long time to older people have seen these. 
  • As a rule students haven’t been burned by fraud and so are more trusting.
Phishing awareness education ideas
  • General security awareness programs
  • Online reviews and refreshers
  • Face to face discussions in the fall for both incoming students/parents
  • Instructors and advisors should tell students “how” to expect their emails
  • Central IT with liaisons can push out messages via liaisons to their respective departments.
  • Look for ways to get their attention all year round and in multiple formats
The presentation slides are available at

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