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Microsoft unveils one-stop service for reporting stolen accounts

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Microsoft on Thursday unveiled a program to alert banks and online services when accounts they oversee are compromised.

The Internet Fraud Alert will serve as a centralized repository for stolen account credentials and personal information, Microsoft said in a press release announcing the system. It creates a single place for researchers to match researchers who discover large caches of pilfered passwords and payment card numbers with the organizations responsible for the compromised accounts. The service is supported by almost a dozen online businesses and fraud-prevention groups.

The vast amount of stolen credentials stashed on servers and sites such as Pastebin.com often makes it hard for people who discover the information to bring it to the attention of the service providers, retailers and other groups whose customers are affected by the breaches. What's more, many organizations don't provide a prominent email address or weblink where compromises can be reported. The Anti-Phishing Working Group alone received more than 410,000 unique phishing reports last year.

Microsoft is billing Internet Fraud Alert as a secure location where researchers can systematically report information about compromised accounts. The service then alerts the proper banks, service providers or authorities.

Microsoft developed the technology underpinning the service and donated it to the National Cyber-Forensics and Training Alliance, a group that trains law enforcement agents, academics and public- and private-sector groups to combat online crime. The new project is supported by eBay, PayPal, the American Bankers Association, Citizens Bank, and the Federal Trade Commission, among others.

It goes into effect immediately. More information, including how to participate, is available here. ®

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