Internet Fraud Alert, a new global cybersecurity project, aims to fast track the reporting of stolen consumer data, including username and password login information for online services, credit card numbers, and other miscellany researchers find online. The service also alerts banks and online services when accounts they oversee are compromised. Microsoft developed the technology behind the website and donated it to the National Cyber-Forensics and Training Alliance (NCFTA), a nonprofit organization that trains law enforcement agents, academics, and other groups to combat cybercrime. The new project is also supported by Accuity, the American Bankers Association, Anti-Phishing Working Group, Citizens Bank, eBay, the Federal Trade Commission, National Consumers League, and PayPal.
It is often difficult for people who discover vast amounts of stolen credentials stashed on servers and sites such as Pastebin.com to bring it to the attention of the proper authorities. Many organizations don't bother to make reporting stolen data easy, and even then, it can be difficult to convince a bank or law enforcement that the information found is legitimate. This wasted time could mean the difference between someone's identity being used for fraud and stopping that before it occurs.
Internet Fraud Alert is a single secure location where researchers can systematically report stolen account credentials and personal information. The service can then match large caches of pilfered passwords and payment card numbers with the organizations responsible for the compromised accounts and alert proper service providers, retailers, financial institutions, and law enforcement.
One weakness of Microsoft's program is that anonymous submissions are not allowed: it's possible that corporate whistleblowers will not come forward if they are worried they will get fired, or worse. The overall success of the new service, however, will likely depend on how quickly affected institutions and consumers are notified.
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