Internet-based fraud--whether identity theft, false advertising, or some other ploy--is a growing problem. Some of the more frequently used scams involve a combination of email messages and spoofed Web sites in which the sender tries to trick the recipient into providing private information such as bank account or credit card information and related logon credentials.
Two organizations, Netcraft and Brightmail, have recently launched security services aimed at helping to curb fraud. Netcraft, known for its popular Web server surveys, has launched a service designed to alert banks and other financial institutions to Internet-based fraud attempts. Netcraft scans some 46 million Web sites looking for the misuse of a financial institution's domain names, trademarks, and familiar phrases. Netcraft also monitors in other ways, including pattern matching of DNS scans and common names used in Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificates. Financial institutions that use the Netcraft antifraud service can be alerted to potentially malicious sites, ideally before these sites have a chance to fool anyone.
Brightmail's Anti-Fraud service is designed to help financial institutions, governments, and other services guard against email fraud and brand spoofing. Brightmail maintains a "probe network"--a collection of more than 2 million email addresses that the company uses as decoys to help collect information about spam and, now, fraud. If the company detects a potential fraud attempt via email, it will alert the involved organization, which can then take action.
Fraud situations can lead to embarrassment and hassles for companies whose identities are spoofed and for individuals who provide their personal information. So how can companies and individuals help prevent these situations? Companies that operate a significant e-commerce site can consider using the new antifraud services.
Individuals can help by raising their own and others' awareness about online fraud. If you're interested in helping to prevent online financial fraud, be sure to visit Anti-Phishing.org, a new Web site at which you can join a working group focused on finding ways to curb online fraud, find links to similar organizations, read news stories and reports about the latest fraud attempts, and more.