Why They Ignore English Emails: The Challenges of Non-Native Speakers in Identifying Phishing Emails


Ayako A. Hasegawa, Naomi Yamashita, and Mitsuaki Akiyama, NTT; Tatsuya Mori, Waseda University / NICT / RIKEN AIP


Prior work in cybersecurity and risk management has shown that non-native speakers of the language used in phishing emails are more susceptible to such attacks. Despite much research on behaviors English speakers use to avoid phishing attacks, little is known about behaviors of non-native speakers. Therefore, we conducted an online survey with 862 non-native English speakers (284 Germans, 276 South Koreans, and 302 Japanese). Our findings show that participants, especially those who lacked confidence in English, had a higher tendency to ignore English emails without careful inspection than emails in their native languages. Furthermore, both the German and South Korean participants generally followed the instructions in the email in their native languages without careful inspection. Finally, our qualitative analysis revealed five main factors that formed the participants' concerns in identifying English phishing emails. These findings highlight the importance of providing non-native speakers with specific anti-phishing interventions that differ from those for native speakers.

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@inproceedings {274445,
author = {Ayako A. Hasegawa and Naomi Yamashita and Mitsuaki Akiyama and Tatsuya Mori},
title = {Why They Ignore English Emails: The Challenges of {Non-Native} Speakers in Identifying Phishing Emails},
booktitle = {Seventeenth Symposium on Usable Privacy and Security (SOUPS 2021)},
year = {2021},
isbn = {978-1-939133-25-0},
pages = {319--338},
url = {https://www.usenix.org/conference/soups2021/presentation/hasegawa},
publisher = {USENIX Association},
month = aug

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