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6/25/2004
05:04 PM
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VeriSign Joins The Fight Against Online Fraud

It's extending its Intelligence and Control Services to include E-mail security and anti-phishing offerings.

Managed security and network services company VeriSign Inc. on Monday joined the battle against spam and online fraud. With technology licensed from FrontBridge Technologies, Sophos, Symantec, and Trend Micro, the company is extending its Intelligence and Control Services to include E-mail security and anti-phishing offerings.

The anti-spam service includes spam filtering, virus scanning, disaster recovery, quarantine options, and policy enforcement. The anti-phishing offering focuses on prevention, detection, response, forensics, and reporting, echoing the aggressive stance MasterCard International Inc. took with the announcement last week of a related anti-phishing service.

"It's pretty clear legislation won't work," Chad Kinzelberg, VP of SSL at VeriSign, says about spam and online fraud. "We believe it will be a service approach."

Steve Jillings, president and CEO of FrontBridge, says a managed service has become a necessity because companies can't scale their hardware to match the growth of spam. "Eighty-four percent of the E-mail we see is spam," he says. "The place to deal with that is out in the cloud. If this goes unchecked, it has serious implications for the longevity of E-mail. Customers are being brought to their knees because they can't handle the problem."

While companies continue to bring offerings to market, the problem is far from solved, and Kinzelberg believes it will remain an issue. "I don't see it going away," he says. "Not with the kind of response rates we're seeing." A recent Gartner survey suggests a 3% response rate for phishing attacks, which exceeds the response rate for many legitimate E-mail-marketing campaigns.

"Phishing started small, but it's becoming a dangerous new trend," says Rebecca Whitener, director of security and privacy services at IT services firm EDS. "There isn't an industry that's not affected by this. The lack of confidence is something that spreads across all buying activity."

Whitener points to a number of surveys that indicate spam and phishing are eroding confidence in E-commerce. For example, an October survey by the nonprofit Pew Internet & American Life Project found that the majority of E-mail users had become less trusting of E-mail in general as a result of spam. Banks, in particular, she says, are worried that it will erode confidence in online banking. She stresses that companies need to focus on security policies and processes, and to communicate quickly with stakeholders when problems arise. User education is critical too, she says.

If suspicion is the first step in that education, that's a good thing, contends Richi Jennings, an analyst at messaging research firm Ferris Research. "People generally have been far too trustful of E-mail," he wrote in an E-mail. "These days, anyone can buy a domain and point it at his or her Web space and publish well-presented content with a click of the mouse in a FrontPage template."

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