A Domain You Can .Bank On?
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Security services company F-Secure has called on the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) to create a special top-level domain that would be used only by financial institutions. In theory, the TLD would help fight the current phishing epidemic. But would it really work?
F-Secure proposed several suffixes for use by the suggested TLD, including .bank, .safe, and .sure. The domain name would be a signal to web surfers and bank customers that the site is truly what it claims to be. Judging from the number of online fraud incidences, this is a reassurance that consumers desperately need; far too many are being duped.
Phishing, in case you haven’t heard of it, is when one website poses as another one, usually a bank, credit card company, or other financial institution. The site convinces consumers it’s the real thing, not an imitation. Consequently consumers log in to the site, thinking it’s their own bank – only to see their personal information stolen, their bank accounts emptied, their credit cards used for fraudulent expenditures, and worse.
The figures just for the UK are astonishing. UK banking organization APACS released a report last month that illustrated the point. Though trying to point out the positives by showing that total credit card losses fell in 2006 from the 2005 figures, it could not hide the fact that online banking fraud was way up: it increased from 23.2 million pounds in 2005 to 33.5 million pounds in 2006, a rise of 44 percent. APACS notes that this increase “has been driven by an increase in phishing incidents, which went up from 1,713 in 2005 to 14,156 last year.”
The United States, sad to say, is the top country for hosting phishing sites, according to the Anti-Phishing Working Group. The organization, which keeps tabs on phishing incidents worldwide, noted that the number of phishing reports it received in February fell by 6,000 from January’s total – but it still came to 26,310. The financial services sector was by far the most targeted industry, accounting for 92.6 percent of all phishing attacks, and most of the 135 brands that were spoofed.
Any suggestion that could bring those numbers down would be welcome. But could a new top-level domain really do it? And if it could, how would it work?
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