Feeds

ICANN urged to cut phishing trawl with banking domain

.Safe harbour

Protecting against web application threats using SSL

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. ®

Reducing the cost and complexity of web vulnerability management

More from The Register

next story
Spies would need SUPER POWERS to tap undersea cables
Why mess with armoured 10kV cables when land-based, and legal, snoop tools are easier?
Early result from Scots indyref vote? NAW, Jimmy - it's a SCAM
Anyone claiming to know before tomorrow is telling porkies
TOR users become FBI's No.1 hacking target after legal power grab
Be afeared, me hearties, these scoundrels be spying our signals
Jihadi terrorists DIDN'T encrypt their comms 'cos of Snowden leaks
Intel bods' analysis concludes 'no significant change' after whistle was blown
Home Depot: 56 million bank cards pwned by malware in our tills
That's about 50 per cent bigger than the Target tills mega-hack
Hackers pop Brazil newspaper to root home routers
Step One: try default passwords. Step Two: Repeat Step One until success
China hacked US Army transport orgs TWENTY TIMES in ONE YEAR
FBI et al knew of nine hacks - but didn't tell TRANSCOM
Microsoft to patch ASP.NET mess even if you don't
We know what's good for you, because we made the mess says Redmond
NORKS ban Wi-Fi and satellite internet at embassies
Crackdown on tardy diplomatic sysadmins providing accidental unfiltered internet access
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
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.