RealTime IT News

Another Tool For Phishing Fights

Microsoft plans to help users of its Internet Explorer browser slow down tricky "phishing" attacks by making a security tool available that warns about possible scams.

The anti-phishing filter was originally slated to run exclusively with the Internet Explorer 7 browser. But with that version locked in beta, the tool is moving on its own track.

Justin Osmer, an MSN product manager, said the decision to make the feature available with earlier versions of IE was to ensure customers would not have to wait for IE 7 to roll out in the future.

"We recognize phishing is an ongoing and growing issue every year," Osmer said. "The important thing is to help customers with the increasing amount of phishing. So we wanted to deliver this right away."

While still officially in testing mode, the anti-phishing tool will be available on systems running the Windows XP operating system with the Service Pack 2 security upgrade from last year, Osmer said.

"The same underlying technology also used in the MSN search toolbar, an add-on program recently kicked off, enables consumers' smarter searching and browser experience," Osmer said.

Microsoft had previously intended to limit the filter for use only with Internet Explorer 7, but continued threats have swayed the company to take the extra security measures.

The tool is designed to stop scammers from faking their way into users e-mail accounts, and convincing them to give up sensitive information like passwords or other personal data.

A report issued earlier this years said the bogus attempts at getting passwords, credit card information and other personal data cost $1.2 billion in damage to U.S. Banks and credit card issuers in 2004.

Amid the security beating IE has been taking, the Mozilla Foundation has been quietly chipping away at Microsoft's global stranglehold, mostly by boasting a more secure product at a time when Redmond's ubiquitous tool was being pounded by bugs.

Although there is not a confirmed date when IE 7 will roll out, the new security tool will be available for IE 6 within the next few weeks.