SecurityBrief Australia - Technology news for CISOs & cybersecurity decision-makers
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Australians would prefer tax stress over dealing with scam messages
Thu, 16th Nov 2023

McAfee's inaugural Global Scam Message Study has revealed surprising insights into Australians' attitudes towards scam messages. The cybersecurity giant's study of more than 7,000 adults worldwide highlighted intriguing statistics concerning the rising issue of sophisticated scams increasingly driven by artificial intelligence (AI).

The Australian-specific findings indicate that online scam messages and texts are a serious nuisance for consumers. About 54% of Australians would rather deal with the stress of monthly tax filings than cope with scam texts and messages throughout the year, the study found.

On an equally extreme note, 46% of Australians would subject themselves to a one-time root canal instead of going through a year inundated with scam messages, and 36% would rather suffer through a 24-hour bout of food poisoning.

Scam messages are not just a nuisance; they are also time thieves. Australians spend a substantial average of 63 minutes a week on determining the legitimacy of messages in their inbox, contributing to more than a full workweek of their time every year.

The scams' sophistication, largely attributed to the enhanced capabilities AI offers scammers, causes an average of 8.3 fake messages to hit every Australian's inbox daily.

Out of these deceptive messages, nearly half (46%) of Australians have believed at least one. As a consequence, almost a third (28%) of those individuals had financial losses due to scam messages, 16% lost over $100, and 12% lost more than $500.

This is no surprise seeing as 87% of Australians found it harder than ever to spot scams in their inboxes and 55% sense that cyberhackers use AI to improve scam accuracy and believability.

McAfee's study results demonstrate the diversity of scam formats Australians face. Some common formats include 'you've won a prize' messages (69%), along with fake purchase notifications (65%), fake missed delivery alerts (77%), false account updates for Amazon (49%) and subscription updates for streaming services like Netflix (52%).

"It's not astounding to see that Aussies would rather get a root canal than deal with a year of scam messages," said Tyler McGee, Head of APAC, McAfee. "This flood of fraudulent communications not only consumes Australians' time and resources but also poses significant security risks."

The cunning deceptions have shaken Australians' faith in digital messaging. About 47% of survey participants say that their trust in online communication has dipped. Consequently, Australians are keen on embracing artificial intelligence to fight these scams.

The study reveals that 47% of individuals are ready to trust AI-based solutions to detect online fraud, while more than a quarter (28%) believe AI is the ticket to defeat AI-empowered scams.

This growing incident brings attention to the pressing need for strong online security and protection measures to safeguard Australian consumers. McAfee's global study underlines the importance of robust defence mechanisms against the ever-evolving sophistication of online scams and fraudsters.