That Phishy Smell Is Coming from Yahoo

By Larry Seltzer  |  Posted 2005-04-28 Print this article Print

Updated: Opinion: It looks like Yahoo stepped into a mess when it started up its domain business. It's being taken advantage of.

Whos the phishiest hosting service on the Internet? According to Netcraft, an Internet security research and consulting firm, its Inktomi, part of Yahoo. That last link is a dynamic page, but Ive been following it a little while, and it hasnt changed much. Most of the other players are a United Nations subcommittee of countries youd stereotype for Internet abuse: Russia, Korea, Taiwan, Brazil, etc. Big enough to have sophisticated Internet infrastructures, loosely run enough to allow illicit operations to run rampant. (Who are the phishiest countries in the world? Netcraft monitors them too.)

Phishing finds its way into Yahoo IM. Click here to read more.
So whats Yahoos excuse? Yahoos deserved place in this hall of shame (along with, another large U.S. hosting service) should be humbling to boastful Americans like me. Were the biggest part of the Internet, and were the biggest part of the problems with it.

A Yahoo spokesperson said, "Phishing is an industrywide issue and one that Yahoo takes very seriously. Yahoo employs a multifaceted approach to protect consumers against phishing scams, including the use of enhanced technologies, industry collaboration efforts, legislation and litigation efforts, and increasing consumer awareness. When we learn about phishing sites, we remove them as quickly as possible. Additionally, we worked with other companies to create and implement an expedited takedown process." The main reason all this caught my attention lately is that I have received several phishing e-mails in recent weeks, all of them targeting Paypal and all hosted on Yahoo. I have attempted to report them to Yahoo through its standard abuse reporting facilities, but these facilities are behind the times and are monitored by employees who dont get the point.

Theres another part of this thats bothered me since it began, and thats the role of Melbourne IT, the Australian company for whom Yahoo resells domain registration services. The first of the phishing attempts I saw, later described in embarrassing detail by the Anti-Phishing Working Group, involved a domain named Obviously, domain registration is an automated process, but this is a pretty obvious infringement of a red-flag name.

Next page: Proper channels.

Larry Seltzer has been writing software for and English about computers ever since—,much to his own amazement—,he graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 1983.

He was one of the authors of NPL and NPL-R, fourth-generation languages for microcomputers by the now-defunct DeskTop Software Corporation. (Larry is sad to find absolutely no hits on any of these +products on Google.) His work at Desktop Software included programming the UCSD p-System, a virtual machine-based operating system with portable binaries that pre-dated Java by more than 10 years.

For several years, he wrote corporate software for Mathematica Policy Research (they're still in business!) and Chase Econometrics (not so lucky) before being forcibly thrown into the consulting market. He bummed around the Philadelphia consulting and contract-programming scenes for a year or two before taking a job at NSTL (National Software Testing Labs) developing product tests and managing contract testing for the computer industry, governments and publication.

In 1991 Larry moved to Massachusetts to become Technical Director of PC Week Labs (now eWeek Labs). He moved within Ziff Davis to New York in 1994 to run testing at Windows Sources. In 1995, he became Technical Director for Internet product testing at PC Magazine and stayed there till 1998.

Since then, he has been writing for numerous other publications, including Fortune Small Business, Windows 2000 Magazine (now Windows and .NET Magazine), ZDNet and Sam Whitmore's Media Survey.

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