How Perceptions of Caller Honesty Vary During Vishing Attacks That Include Highly Sensitive or Seemingly Innocuous Requests

Miriam E. Armstrong, Keith S. Jones, Akbar Siami Namin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Objective: To understand how aspects of vishing calls (phishing phone calls) influence perceived visher honesty. Background: Little is understood about how targeted individuals behave during vishing attacks. According to truth-default theory, people assume others are being honest until something triggers their suspicion. We investigated whether that was true during vishing attacks. Methods: Twenty-four participants read written descriptions of eight real-world vishing calls. Half included highly sensitive requests; the remainder included seemingly innocuous requests. Participants rated visher honesty at multiple points during conversations. Results: Participants initially perceived vishers to be honest. Honesty ratings decreased before requests occurred. Honesty ratings decreased further in response to highly sensitive requests, but not seemingly innocuous requests. Honesty ratings recovered somewhat, but only after highly sensitive requests. Conclusions: The present results revealed five important insights: (1) people begin vishing conversations in the truth-default state, (2) certain aspects of vishing conversations serve as triggers, (3) other aspects of vishing conversations do not serve as triggers, (4) in certain situations, people’s perceptions of visher honesty improve, and, more generally, (5) truth-default theory may be a useful tool for understanding how targeted individuals behave during vishing attacks. Application: Those developing systems that help users deal with suspected vishing attacks or penetration testing plans should consider (1) targeted individuals’ truth-bias, (2) the influence of visher demeanor on the likelihood of deception detection, (3) the influence of fabricated situations surrounding vishing requests on the likelihood of deception detection, and (4) targeted individuals’ lack of concern about seemingly innocuous requests.

Original languageEnglish
JournalHuman Factors
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2021

Keywords

  • deception detection
  • social engineering
  • telephone fraud
  • truth-default theory
  • vishing

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'How Perceptions of Caller Honesty Vary During Vishing Attacks That Include Highly Sensitive or Seemingly Innocuous Requests'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this