Implementing a Nudge to Prevent Email Phishing

University essay from KTH/Skolan för elektroteknik och datavetenskap (EECS); KTH/Skolan för elektroteknik och datavetenskap (EECS)

Abstract: Phishing is a reoccurring issue, which uses social engineering as an attack strategy. The prevention of these attacks is often content-based filters. These solutions are however not always perfect, and phishing emails can still be able to get through the filters. We suggest a new strategy to combat phishing. The strategy is a technical platform which uses the psychology concept nudge. Nudge is a concept that can be used to change a certain behaviour, in this case to make people more cautious when reading their emails.The objective of this thesis is to suggest a nudge using a technical platform regarding possible desensitization. The nudge aims to change email related behaviours to more healthy ones. To get indications if the nudge has benefits, a qualitative survey was made. When using a psychology-based solution, one must address the possibility of desensitization. To minimize possible desensitization, a quantitative analysis was made where different ways to minimize desensitization were assessed. Data for this analysis was gathered by a simulation modeling, where the simulation aimed to replicate a user performing email related events.The conclusion of the simulation results showed that a whitelist approach was the most appropriate for our nudge. The approach minimized the chance of possible desensitization while having a low risk of not performing a nudge when needed. The conclusion of the survey results was that there was an indication of behavioural change and that there existed a risk of possible desensitization.

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