Internet Fraud Alert Program Launched

Microsoft, FTC, PayPal back program for sharing information on compromised account credentials.

Mathew Schwartz

June 18, 2010

1 Min Read
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Internet Fraud Alert, a new program aimed at sharing information about stolen account credentials and mitigating the potential losses associated with online fraud, launched Thursday.

The program's backers include Microsoft, the National Cyber-Forensics and Training Alliance (NCFTA), the American Bankers Association, global payment routing provider Accuity, the Anti-Phishing Working Group, eBay and PayPal, the Federal Trade Commission, and the National Consumers League.

According to Ron Plesco, president and CEO of NCFTA, "this program will enable the expeditious identification of current and emerging threats, which is key to the mitigation of compromised data."

The program aims to do that by creating a single channel for sharing information among academic researchers, consumer advocates, financial institutions, government agencies, retailers, service providers, and technology companies.

Such a back channel would be useful when security researchers trace phishing or malware attacks back to illicit databases or online forums and discover people's personal information, such as bank account credentials. To date, according to Microsoft, researchers have lacked a "simple mechanism" for warning the businesses or organizations when their customers' credentials are discovered during the course of an investigation.

The program's inception reflects how consumers continue to be barraged by an array of attacks -- via Web sites, software applications, and e-mails -- gunning for their personal information, such as credit card details. In 2009, the Anti-Phishing Working Group saw the number of unique phishing attacks double between the first and second halves of the year.

To help launch the program, Microsoft donated software to the NCFTA, a nonprofit organization that facilitates public-private partnerships among industry, law enforcement, and academia on cybersecurity issues. In addition, Accuity donated technology to help the NCFTA vet the institutions involved in the program and maintain the integrity of the information being shared.

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