Internet Services and Catching
Phish"> Netcrafts Phishing, Identity Theft and Banking Fraud Detection service leverages the companys famous survey of Web server usage. In fact, Netcraft has always captured more data from this survey than the public survey discloses, using the database for consulting and analysis opportunities. For example, they capture the home page data from each page in the survey and link data. Netcraft combines its Web data with some number of spam honeypot accounts of their own. I dont have the actual number, but its surely dwarfed by Brightmails coverage. Matador, maker of client- and server-based anti-spam products, has a client-based anti-fraud product in public beta. The product identifies and segregates scam messages, notifies you when new scams are out in order to alert you, and lets you report suspected new ones.The usual mode of operation for these scams is a spammed e-mail message that brings the user to a Web page. Some of them dont even bother with the Web page. Some old-fashioned ones will use an HTML mail message with a mailto: form, meaning that the users mail client is used to send data directly. Some are even simpler, asking the user to print out and fax a form with the information on it. That takes nerve, since phone numbers are easier to trace. But since most of them are publicized through e-mail, its hard not to conclude that Brightmails advantages are more relevant than Netcrafts. The important thing with these scammers is to stop them quickly before a lot of people have the chance to fall for them, and Brightmails millions of accounts are more likely to do that more quickly. This is not to diminish the early intelligence that Netcrafts database can provide, perhaps well in advance of the e-mails even going out. In fact, the ideal service would combine the facilities of both companies. No doubt youre free to do this by paying both companies, but maybe one day it will get more convenient and affordable. Security Center Editor Larry Seltzer has worked in and written about the computer industry since 1983.
More from Larry Seltzer
Scanning for a fraud is trickier than it may at first seem. Clearly technology such as Brightmails spam scanning is well-suited to adaptation to the task, but you cant make such a judgment based on the words in the message. Its more a matter of looking at the links in the message and the servers through which the message was sent. Both Brightmail and Netcraft use automated facilities to narrow down scam candidates to the point where a human being can examine them and confirm their nature.