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April 14, 2004

EarthLink toolbar blocks phisher sites

EarthLink Inc has added the ability to block scam web sites, so-called "phishing" scams, to its browser toolbar plug-in, in partnership with eBay Inc and Brightmail Inc. The software will be made available to the ISP's customers for free download next week.

By CBR Staff Writer

We get 40,000 calls a month either reporting scams or from people concerned they’ve been taken in by a phisher, said EarthLink senior product manager Scott Mecredy.

Phishing scams usually arrive as spam email, mimicking the style and logos of well-known internet brands, and contain links to web sites mocked up to look like the real thing and ask users to enter credit card information.

Mecredy said that the new toolbar uses a local HTTP proxy and a list of sites and rules compiled by EarthLink’s fraud department and eBay. Brightmail’s list of phishing sites will be added next month, he said.

When a user tries to visit a site identified as a phishing scam, the toolbar contacts EarthLink’s servers to check the site is still considered an active scam. If it is, the browser is redirected to an EarthLink page explaining the scam.

Based on how the URL scanner is described, it seems possible that scammers will be able to find workarounds, but Mecredy said the system has been architected in such a way that EarthLink will be able to keep up with the bad guys.

The toolbar is optional, and users can deactivate the scam blocker part if they want to. While the company considered that it would be possible to add spam URLs into the list too, from Brightmail say, it decided against it, Mecredy said.

This article is based on material originally published by ComputerWire

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