Are Security Toolbars Really Helpful in Preventing Phishing Attacks?
Do you really think that you can spot a phishing site? You don’t need to be too sure… as even the most technically advanced sophisticated person fails to do so. However, several security toolbars designed specifically to fight back phishing attacks, can help ensure that you don’t fall for such a con.
Security toolbars are present in web browsers to display security-related information to a user about the website, making it easier for users to detect phishing attacks. These toolbars display a visual warning while you are still on a site that pretends to be something that it’s not or displays a list of fake sites.
Phishing has become a significant threat to the Internet users. Phishing attack is conducted using the legitimate looking, but fake emails and website. These attacks are especially designed to mislead users into:
· Revealing personal or financial information to attackers.
· Downloading and installing fake software, which keeps a track of users’ offline as well as online activities to gather private information.
Phishing attacks are on the rise and becoming the most dangerous threat to novice users. This is when the security toolbar comes in handy and helps in preventing users from falling into these fake sites. Let’s take a look at the list of security toolbars available for user’s online security:
Netcraft Toolbar is considered the most reliable method – it displays the detailed information about the site, including the domain’s registration date, hosting country, and popularity among other toolbar users. The information obtained via this toolbar helps in detecting phishing sites in not much time. Netcraft, the anti-phishing toolbar runs under the two known browsers – Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox.
It moves a step ahead and displays the logos of the website and its certificate authority (CA), which further enhances the visibility of secure web connections (SSL). It helps in determining the sites that do not use the SSL to secure user’s private and sensitive data, while the legitimate sites ensure that the user related information is encrypted and secured. The attackers involved in phishing scams avoid going for SSL because obtaining SSL certificate from a well-known CA demands identity which can be traced later.
eBay Toolbar and Account Guard
eBay toolbar’s Account Guard helps in determining phishing sites by simply displaying a green signal icon. The green icon indicates that the site belongs to eBay or PayPal. But, while entering any website, if a red icon is found, it means the site is illegal or is a phishing site.
SpoofGuard is yet another security toolbar, which detects and displays a phishing site. It detects a phishing site by calculating spoof score for the current site using some specific standards derived from previous phishing sites. Once the spoof score is calculated, the Spoof Guard then translates the score in the form of traffic lights –red indicating the site is hostile and dangerous, yellow for scores in the middle and green indicating the page is safe and secure.
These are some of the security toolbars that help in identifying whether the site that you are visiting is safe or not. In addition to these security toolbars, you can also take help from existing browser indicators to detect phishing attacks.
Though security toolbars are helpful in identifying phishing sites, but still it comes with some potential drawbacks that can play with the users’ trust. Here’s how:
· Security toolbars are considered the best security one can ever think of, but still there are several potential drawbacks to its approach. Here’s a quick look at them:
· A toolbar is a small display in the peripheral area of the browser, which can be overlooked by users. If the detail about the site is displayed on the main window as soon as it opens up, it would be clearer to the users.
· A security toolbar is designed only to display security-related information, but security is never the primary thing to look out for by the user. Here, the users might not care about the details displayed by toolbars.
· If by any chance, the toolbar makes a mistake and displays a legitimate site as a phishing site, it might lose the trust that users have on it. Then, when the toolbar identifies the phishing site correctly, users may not believe it. It might act in a different way.
So, what are you going to follow now? Your security lies entirely in your hands; the more careful you are about your online activities, the better place it would be for you. So, don’t lose your trust on these toolbars, instead, just be more cautious and active about your activities and it will be a real help for you in the long run.