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Security

Browser promises to fend off phishers

Update to free browser will warn people if a Web site looks like a phishing scam, its maker says.

Deepnet Technologies is set to deliver the next version of its free browser software, which it said will alert people if a Web site appears to be a "phishing" scam.

The U.K.-based software developer said it will release Deepnet 1.3 on Dec. 1. The free browser is already available in beta, although the anti-phishing function will not be incorporated until the final version, said Yurong Lin, chief executive of Deepnet.

"We are adding a scam blocker," Lin said. "It will try to automatically detect scam Web sites, and if it decides it is a scam, it will warn the user."

Phishing sites are usually fake versions of an organization's legitimate Web site. Victims are often lured to the sites by sophisticated e-mails, and many are fooled into disclosing online passwords, user names and other personal information.

Lin said the blocker works by using both a blacklist of known phishing sites and by analyzing the URL and Web site visited. For example, it will be able to detect insecure Web sites used in some phishing scams, he said.

Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant for security company Sophos, said the software could be useful. But he said people should not rely on it, as it will not be able to detect all phishing sites.

"It's not to say it isn't a good idea, but it is dangerous for people to rely on it," Cluley said. "It will be possible for the browser to pick up on some things, but hackers could tweak the phishing Web site so that it doesn't trigger it."

The browser will be unable to detect the next generation of phishing attacks, which happen on legitimate sites, Cluley said. Last week, a Trojan horse was found that can steal e-banking details when people log into legitimate banking sites.

Lin said the Deepnet browser is experiencing 1,500 to 2,000 downloads per day. The company is talking to various companies, including Google, about partnerships, he said.

One of the main reasons why people are choosing to switch to Deepnet is security, Lin said.

"We believe it is the most secure browser--it is even more secure than Mozilla," he said. "For example, IE and Mozilla support plug-ins, which are one of the sources of malware and spyware. We don't support third-party plug-ins."

The new browser is available from Deepnet's Web site.

Ingrid Marson of ZDNet UK reported from London.