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Thunderbird promises to fend off phishers

Developers are working to add protection against online fraud to the next version of the open-source e-mail application.

Developers are creating an antiphishing tool for open-source e-mail application Thunderbird.

Mozilla contributor Henrik Gemal wrote last week in a blog that a phishing detector has been added to Thunderbird. This feature is likely to be available in the next release of Thunderbird, version 1.1, according to the Mozilla bug report.

In a phishing scam, fraudsters send e-mail messages that try to lure people to Web sites faked to look like sites belonging to trusted service providers such as banks. Once they click through, people are asked to hand over credit card numbers and other sensitive personal information, which the criminals could use to commit identity fraud.

With the new Thunderbird feature, when a user clicks on a link in an e-mail that appears to be a phishing URL, the detector will prompt the user with a dialog box before the Web site is opened, Gemal wrote. The detector is triggered if the URL has a numeric Internet Protocol address rather than a domain name, or if the URL does not match the address displayed in the link text.

Firefox, the Mozilla Organization's browser software, and Mozilla Suite, its Internet application package, can already detect some phishing scams, according to a posting on the Mozilla news site, MozillaZine. These applications will warn people who try to visit a URL that includes an unnecessary username--a trick used by phishers to hide the true domain name of a site.

Earlier this month, a vulnerability was discovered in Firefox that some say could make users of the open-source browser more likely to fall for phishing scams. This article elicited a wide range of opinions from fans of the open-source browser and from those who were less enamored with it.

Ingrid Marson of ZDNet UK reported from London.