Feeds

ICANN urged to cut phishing trawl with banking domain

.Safe harbour

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

Security watchers are calling on net governance body ICANN to adopt a new top level domain name to be used exclusively by registered banks and financial organisations.

A .safe or .sure domain name would give consumers increased piece of mind that they are dealing with a legitimate financial institution while potentially making it easier to identify rogue sites.

If ICANN introduced a .safe domain (or .sure or .bank), which could only be used by registered financial institutions, it would allow security providers to create better software to protect the public, according to F-Secure.

The idea has been in existence for some time, but the massive rise in phishing attacks over recent months has renewed interest. According to figures from UK banking organisation APACS released earlier this month, online banking fraud losses in the UK alone came to £33.5m in 2006, up from £23.2m in 2005. This 44 per cent year-on-year increase was largely driven by an increase in phishing incidents, which went up from 1,713 in 2005 to 14,156 last year.

"While a .safe domain name won’t prevent phishing attacks, it will help banks and security providers to keep their customers safe,” said Mikko Hyppönen, chief research officer at F-Secure. "Using a secure domain name such as .safe will give customers the reassurance they need when banking online.

"It’s true this will mean banks have to pay a premium to be able to use the domain name, but it will reduce the number of successful phishing sites that have been tricking many customers out of their hard earned cash," Hyppönen continued.

Recent months have seen the launch of numerous services and enhancements to browser software packages and searching sites designed to warn users that they might be visiting dodgy domains. Hyppönen reckons these efforts are all well and good but don't go far enough. "Right now, customers have no good way of automatically being able to tell whether or not a bank website belongs to the bank," he said.

A .safe domain only available to financial institutions would be comparable to top level domains such .gov, which is only available to government institutions. Anecdotal evidence suggests this approach might lead to a more controlled environment for internet banking. A recent study based on results from SiteAdvisor, a free "safe searching" tool from McAfee that catalogues and warns users about unsafe sites, found that .gov was the only tested domain for which SiteAdvisor found no risky sites. ®

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
SMASH the Bash bug! Apple and Red Hat scramble for patch batches
'Applying multiple security updates is extremely difficult'
Shellshock: 'Larger scale attack' on its way, warn securo-bods
Not just web servers under threat - though TENS of THOUSANDS have been hit
Apple's new iPhone 6 vulnerable to last year's TouchID fingerprint hack
But unsophisticated thieves need not attempt this trick
Oracle SHELLSHOCKER - data titan lists unpatchables
Database kingpin lists 32 products that can't be patched (yet) as GNU fixes second vuln
Who.is does the Harlem Shake
Blame it on LOLing XSS terroristas
Researchers tell black hats: 'YOU'RE SOOO PREDICTABLE'
Want to register that domain? We're way ahead of you.
Stunned by Shellshock Bash bug? Patch all you can – or be punished
UK data watchdog rolls up its sleeves, polishes truncheon
prev story

Whitepapers

A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.