EarthLink aims to block 'phishing' scams

The ISP is offering a tool to protect customers from scams that con people into parting with personal information by luring them to bogus corporate Web sites.

Atlanta-based EarthLink on Monday became the first Internet service provider to offer protection from "phishing" scams that trick people into parting with personal information by luring them to bogus corporate Web sites.

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The antiphisher software is part of EarthLink's ScamBlocker feature, a downloadable browser-based toolbar that includes a Google-powered search engine and EarthLink's Pop-Up Blocker. EarthLink said it also offers a program that keeps tab of all spyware softwarelink> on customers' computers.

The Anti-Phishing Working Group estimated that 282 new phishing scams were introduced in February, up from 176 in January. About 70 percent of these originated either in Eastern Europe or Asia.

The ScamBlocker tool warns people about accessing known or suspected phisher sites and redirects them to an EarthLink-generated Web page that provides additional information about phishers and similar online scams. It also describes further actions subscribers can take to protect themselves.

EarthLink is working with online auctioneer eBay and antispam firm Brightmail to identify and block known phisher sites. A large number of eBay customers were subjected to a similar fraud last November, when they received a forged e-mail that looked like one that came from PayPal, an online payment service eBay bought in 2002. Running the program infected the victim's computer and asked the PC user for credit card information, which the virus then sent to the attacker.

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