Objective: We hypothesized that younger and older adults differ in their susceptibility to past Internet “phishing” attacks as a result of differences in executive functioning (EF) ability. Given the increasing sophistication of phishing attacks, lower levels of EF should predict prior susceptibility. Method: Younger (N = 48, Mage = 21.48, SDage = 4.65) and older adult (N = 19, Mage = 66.53 SDage = 9.23) participants were recruited for a study evaluating Internet browsing behaviors and phishing susceptibility. All participants endorsed monthly Internet use as well as possession of multiple personal website accounts. Potential participants were excluded if impairments in cognitive functioning were identified on the Memory Impairment Screen by Telephone (MIS-T). Each participant was administered the Neuropsychological Assessment Battery-Executive Functions Module (NAB–EF), the Iowa Gambling Test (IGT), and questions regarding Internet use and prior vulnerability to “phishing” attacks. Results: A logistic regression predicting prior susceptibility with NAB-EF, IGT, and age group was significant, χ2 (3, N = 67) = 13.51, p = .004, and predicted between 18.3–25.9% of the variance, correctly classifying 77.6% of cases. Only age group significantly predicted prior susceptibility (B = 2.17, p = .001), in which older adults were over 8 times as likely to report succumbing to an attack (OR = 8.73). Neither NAB-EF nor IGT performance significantly contributed to the model. Conclusion: Age group, not EF ability, predicts previous vulnerability to a phishing attack. Age group, independent of EF, may serve as a proxy variable for other unaccounted for factors, such as computer and security familiarity.
Age Group, Not Executive Functioning, Predicts Past Susceptibility to Internet Phishing Scams
J Roberts, S John, C Bussell, K Grajzel, R Zhao, S Karas, D Six, C Yue, B Gavett; C-26
Age Group, Not Executive Functioning, Predicts Past Susceptibility to Internet Phishing Scams. Arch Clin Neuropsychol 2015; 30 (6): 572-573. doi: 10.1093/arclin/acv047.228
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