US-based scholar of Information Systems Management, Dr H Raghava Rao, who occupies the A T & T Chair at University of Texas, San Antonio, USA delivered a lecture on ‘Phishing and Cyber Security’ at the MYRA School of Business in the city.
Dr Rao, who is currently involved in conducting research on information security, safety, spoke about various ways in which information is prone to theft online.
Specifically talking about ‘phishing’ the common term for ‘the attempt to obtain sensitive information such as usernames, passwords, and credit card details (and, indirectly, money), by disguising as a trustworthy entity in an electronic communication, Dr Rao threw light on several aspects including the psychology of risk.
Dr Rao mentioned the ‘bounded rationality’ theory of Herbert Simon as well as the ‘Prospect Theory’ propounded by Kahnemann and Tversky. These theories give the contextual framework which helps one understand how humans evaluate risks and take decisions.
Dr Rao then emphasized on the Cialdini’s theories on psychology of persuasion by explaining the six principles of influence – reciprocity, commitment/consistency, social proof, authority, liking and scarcity.
Dr Rao explained how phishers use these six means to persuade gullible people to share sensitive information with them.
The lecture was interspersed with lively interactions with students and faculty of MYRA and covered several related topics such as ethical hacking; cyber laws and cyber-crime regulation in US and India; segmentation of phishers as well as identifying population segments that are most prone to phishing.