Security Web Digest: Earthlink and Feds Warn of Surge in Scams

"Phisher" sites appear to be from legitimate companies, trick users into divulging personal info Teenager gets off easy for AOL scam AirDefense upgrades monitoring software to support 802.11g, WPA Congressional


The U.S. federal government and EarthLink Inc. on Monday warned of a surge in unsolicited e-mail and scam Web sites that are designed to steal the identity of unsuspecting Internet users. The Atlanta-based Internet service provider has seen a spike since the beginning of the year in e-mail linked to so-called "phisher" Web site scams, which use spam to lure victims to Web sites that look like legitimate retail or corporate sites, according to company spokeswoman Carla Shaw. Victims are often told that they need to update personal account information with a company. Once at the scam site, victims are asked to "re-enter" sensitive information such as their Social Security numbers, account passwords or even credit card numbers into a form provided on the site. That information is captured by the scam Web sites operators and used to perpetrate identity theft, EarthLink said.

U.S. regulators said on Monday they had charged a 17-year-old boy with using "spam" e-mails and a fake AOL Web page to trick people out of their credit card information and steal thousands of dollars. Officials at the Federal Trade Commission said they had agreed to settle their case against the teenager, who was not identified because of his age, after he agreed to pay back $3,500 he had stolen, and to submit to a lifetime ban on sending spam. Its the first enforcement action the FTC has taken against an Internet "phishing" scam.


Wireless LAN security company AirDefense Inc. released a new version of its monitoring software Monday, adding support for the new 802.11g wireless standard and a policy enforcement feature that can push configuration changes out to remote access points. AirDefense 3.5 is the second generation of the companys wireless LAN (WLAN) monitoring software. The product acts like a "traffic helicopter" for corporate wireless networks, sitting on top of wireless VPNs (virtual private networks) and encryption technology and enabling administrators to easily survey wireless access points and client systems. The AirDefense Guard module includes intrusion protection features that can turn off an access point that comes under attack and support for the devices using the new WPA (Wi-Fi Protected Access) wireless encryption standard, the company said.


Would-be Internet censors in places such as China and Myanmar could have a tougher time restricting the free flow of information, according to a measure that the U.S. House of Representatives approved last week. The legislation aims to create a federal Office of Global Internet Freedom and gives it $16 million to spend over the next two years. The office would be tasked with an unusual mission for a government agency: devising technical methods to prevent other nations from censoring the Internet. If the Senate follows the Houses lead and approves the appropriations bill, the new office would be organized under the Broadcasting Board of Governors, a federal agency that was created in 1999 to consolidate nonmilitary broadcasting by the federal government. It also is home to the Voice of America, Radio Free Europe and Radio Free Asia.