Big Names in Computers Teaming Up to Fight Email Scams

by on December 8th, 2010
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The Associated Press is reporting, via ABC News, that some of the biggest names in the computer business are teaming up to figure out a way to fight a type of email scam known as phishing. Reportedly, companies such as Microsoft, Google, eBay, Paypal and Facebook are all working together to build a system whereby consumers could be made safe from those attempting to steal their private account information.

Phishing is where a fraudulent entity creates an email that looks like it belongs to another company, say your local bank or credit card company. When that email is sent to someone who believes it’s legitimate and thus freely uses links in it to try to log into their account, the login information is captured and passed to a their site where the information is used to unlawfully gain access to an account and to remove funds.

Users have been complaining about phishing scams for several years, but lately, the onslaught has become so acute that big name computer companies are finding that need to do something or possibly face loss of confidence in online systems, which would of course be devastating to both the computer industry and those that do business online.

Altogether 15 major technology companies have signed on to the project which already has a name: Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting and Conformance .and acronym, DMARC. The new project isn’t expected to develop any new technology but to create a standard that all technology companies can use, which should make authenticating emails sent to users much easier. And making that easier makes it easier for email filters to toss such stuff in the spam folder.

Google, which already uses a form of DMARC, says that currently 15 percent of email across its network is detected by its system and routed to spam folders. The new project hopes to increase that number dramatically and to obviously include all email systems so that all users will be protected.

In the meantime, users are cautioned about clinking on links even those inside of emails from people they know, as phishing bad guys have grown increasingly sophisticated in their abilities to mimic real companies and thus fool users who unknowingly click on them and freely give away their login name and passwords.

The project was apparently started in secret some 18 months ago, though it has only recently begun to pick up steam. And though there is no official word on when such a system will be put in place, because the technical specifications have already all been worked out, it’s likely it could be rolled out as early as this summer.

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