Digital PhishNet Initiative Announced by ISPs, Federal Agencies

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Microsoft, AOL, Earthlink, and several other industry giants, along with the FBI, the FTC, the U.S. Secret Service, and the USPS announced today the formation of Digital PhishNet, a collaborative initiative designed to take phishers down by arresting and convicting them.

“The key to stopping phishers and bringing them to justice is to identify and target them quickly,” said Dan Larkin, unit chief at the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3). “Phishers create and dismantle these phony sites very, very fast, stockpiling credit card numbers, passcodes and other personal financial information over the course of just a couple of days, in order to avoid detection. Digital PhishNet is a powerful response to this type of online fraud because it facilitates critical data collection between a large number of the targets of these crimes – those who are on the front lines of the fight against phishing – and establishes a pipeline directly to law enforcement, in real time, before the phisher has had time to disappear back into the anonymity of cyberspace.”

Nancy Anderson, vice president and deputy general counsel for Microsoft, added “Imposter Web sites can be extremely sophisticated and much more difficult to discern from legitimate Web sites. These phishers move very quickly, collecting as much personal financial data as they can before moving on to set up shop under another phony identity. Digital PhishNet is an aggressive and offensive attack against these cybercriminals and one that will make their lives much more difficult.”


It is anticipated that the collaborative effort will allow law enforcement to focus and hone in on phishers more quickly and effectively, yielding a more effective arrest and conviction rate. If as effective as hoped, this should also have a deterrent effect on future phishers.

“Criminals are employing increasingly sophisticated tactics to defraud consumers, including phishing, online identity theft, malicious code attacks and the dissemination of spyware,” said Les Seagraves, chief privacy officer and assistant general counsel for EarthLink. “Today’s announcement puts Internet scammers and spoofers on notice: We’re coming after you with the full force of industry and federal law enforcement combined. Working in cooperation with Digital PhishNet will greatly help us in our efforts to protect consumers and bring cybercriminals to justice.”

You can read more about this at Internet Week.

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