July 21, 2004 12:07 PM PDT

Antiphishing group gets help from Microsoft

Microsoft on Wednesday announced that it will donate $46,000 worth of software to an agency fighting phishing and will make a full-time analyst available to the group.

The recipient of these contributions is the National Cyber-Forensics & Training Alliance, an organization set up jointly by the FBI, the National White Collar Crime Center, Carnegie Mellon University and West Virginia University.

"It is basically a place to all get together to share information about consumer fraud and phishing," said Stirling McBride, a senior investigator in Microsoft's Internet Safety Enforcement group, the team from which the full-time analyst will be drawn. "Increasingly, we are recognizing that cybercrime is not a problem that we are going to solve unilaterally, and law enforcement has come to that same conclusion."

The Microsoft analyst will help the alliance make sense of data related to Internet crime, including violations of the federal Can-Spam Act, as well as phishing, the software giant said. Additionally, the analyst will work with the group to make sure that law enforcement has timely industry data and to help design training programs for police.

The alliance was founded as part of an effort to build a collaborative environment for fighting Internet crime. In a statement, Microsoft said that such efforts are important.

"The tactics of spammers, hackers and other online con artists are becoming increasingly sophisticated, and as a company, Microsoft is dedicating resources to help law enforcement find those responsible for harming consumers," Nancy Anderson, deputy general counsel for the company, said in a statement.

Phishing has become a significant problem for financial institutions. The practice involves sending phony e-mails to customers of banks and other institutions, asking them to update their personal security information. In this manner, phishers steal bank account details, credit card information and Social Security numbers, and they use this data to defraud businesses and their customers.

As incidents of spam, e-mail attacks and phishing increase in number, technology companies are stepping up their efforts to educate consumers, as well as devise ways of preventing such incidents.

Dell has announced an education program for its customers, and Microsoft is running a cash prize program to reward people for providing information about writers of malicious software, like Sasser.

CNET News.com's Rob Lemos contributed to this story.

 

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