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NEWS: April 17, 2004

by Donna Buenaventura / April 17, 2004 2:11 AM PDT

Free software sniffs out phishy Web sites

Internet service provider (ISP) EarthLink will launch a new anti-fraud tool called ScamBlocker on April 19, 2004. ScamBlocker is a toolbar that will work with Internet browsers; it will be available to all online users, not just EarthLink customers, and is designed to warn against the growing number of online 'phishing' scams. Such scams use 'spoofed' websites that look like the sites of legitimate businesses to trick unsuspecting users into divulging financial information. The new tool will warn web surfers if they are visiting a site on EarthLink's phishing black list. The list will only contain known fraud sites, so users will remain at risk until a scam site has been reported to EarthLink. According to new figures from the Anti-Phishing Working Group, the number of phishing scams increased by 43% from February to March 2004.


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AOL Answers Privacy Concerns in AIM Beta
by Donna Buenaventura / April 17, 2004 2:16 AM PDT
In reply to: NEWS: April 17, 2004

America Online has primed a stealth beta release of its AIM instant messaging client. Build 5.5.3590 modifies the way that AIM handles the installation of third-party add-ons and adds support for the WeatherBug desktop weather application.

Prior production releases of AIM drew criticism for forcibly installing Wild Tangent's gaming technology, which some privacy advocates consider to be spyware.

Wild Tangent's Web driver installs an auto-updater that is enabled by default. Once installed on a host system, the autoupdater will then periodically phone home, transmitting machine specific data derived from a user's hardware and software environment back to Wild Tangent.

Wild Tangent says it uses this data to determine how its software is being used and may share it with third parties. Several popular anti-spyware utilities including Lavasoft's Ad-aware identify and remove the product.

A statement on the product's Web site claims, "WeatherBug does not monitor, collect data or 'spy' on its user base." What's more, WeatherBug says it requires its partners to adhere to the same philosophy.

When asked to comment, an AOL spokesperson acknowledged consumer privacy concerns and stated that the AIM client was modified to remedy outstanding privacy issues spawned by the practices of third party vendors who partner with AOL.


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Keystrokes recorded
by Donna Buenaventura / April 17, 2004 2:19 AM PDT
In reply to: NEWS: April 17, 2004

High street banks have admitted that they are also losing money to criminals who record passwords and identities using remotely operated key-logging programs.

Most banks have switched their logging-in procedures for online customers to avoid the threat from trojan programs which have been surreptitiously placed on users' computers to record keystrokes.

Instead of requiring customers to type in their passwords and identities, they make them click on a drop-down menu or alphabet by clicking on it with their mouse.


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Symantec President to Participate on FTC Spyware Panel
by Donna Buenaventura / April 17, 2004 2:23 AM PDT
In reply to: NEWS: April 17, 2004

Symantec Corp., the global leader in information security, today announced that John Schwarz, Symantec's president and chief operating officer, will participate on a panel discussing spyware and its ramifications as part of a workshop hosted by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The panel discussion, entitled "Industry Responses to Spyware: Industry Best Practices and Working With the Government," is scheduled for Monday, April 19, 2004, from 2:30 - 3:30 p.m., ET, at the FTC's Conference Center, located at 601 New Jersey Ave., NW, Washington, D.C.

Schwarz's comments will focus specifically on the impact spyware and similar software has on the information security industry and best practices to address spyware as a cyber threat.


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Spammer Sentencing Guidelines Released
by Marianna Schmudlach / April 17, 2004 6:29 AM PDT
In reply to: NEWS: April 17, 2004

Trying to post for Donna

The United States Sentencing Commission has issued its guidelines for punishment under the CAN-SPAM act (PDF, beginning on page 155). You can get 5 years for a second offense or if you're spamming for fraud, child porn or other felony, or 1 to 3 years depending on how much spam you send. If Congress doesn't say otherwise, it goes into effect November 1.


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