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NameProtect and MasterCard unite to combat online fraud, ‘phishing’

Operation STOP IT aimed at protecting businesses

MADISON, Wis. – NameProtect, a Wisconsin company, has teamed up with MasterCard to help battle online identity theft and “phishing” schemes within the financial services industry.

Under the arrangement, NameProtect will use its technology to identify online credit-card trading rings, phishing scams and other forms of payment fraud. Phishing describes the act of an individual posing as an authority figure, usually a bank IT representative, in an e-mail that directs customers to a bogus Web site to submit their financial data. NameProtect will relay its findings back to MasterCard in real time, which will then report illegal activities to the proper authorities.

“The primary goal [of the partnership] is to ensure confidence in the online environment,” said Mark McLane, chief executive officer of NameProtect. “Obviously the financial services industry has a great deal invested in the growth of online transactions. In order to ensure consumer confidence in those transactions, aggressive behavior needs to happen.”

The fruit of this joint venture, Operation STOP IT, is an online fraud detection program co-developed by MasterCard and NameProtect. It is designed to reduce organizations’ vulnerability to online attacks, mitigate fraud losses and protect brand integrity.
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The partnership comes at a time when online identity theft and fraud cases are increasing. According to the Anti-Phishing Working Group, unique attacks on companies are increasing 110 percent per month, up from 28 reported in November 2003 to 1,125 reported in April 2004. The financial services industry is the most-targeted industry for phishing attacks, the AWPG stated, representing 70.1 percent of all reported attacks in May.

“It has gotten much worse since the fall,” said Peter Cassidy, research manager at AWPG. “First, attacks that start out as hand-made artifacts, labors of obsession, in many cases, and end up as script packages and downloadable kits on the Internet that are passed around like baseball cards. At the same time, established organized crime groups have stepped in, joining the casual credit card fraudsters, script kiddies, spammers-gone-bad and the larger crowd of amateurs that are lured into this kind of crime because of its relative ease of execution and anonymity afforded by the Internet.”

According to McLane, MasterCard’s ability to report illegal activities to global authorities addresses perpetrators’ increasing sophistication. But, it can’t all be up to professional fraud-busters.

“I think it’s incumbent upon companies to do a better job of protecting their brand in terms of its use in the market place. Also there is an education piece to program, but the most important part of it is MasterCard is attempting to bring global law enforcement in there. These folks who do this are sophisticated and organized … this global law enforcement is important.”

NameProtect is a Madison-based business that provides digital fraud detection and e-market intelligence.

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Kristin V. Johnson is the Associate Editor of WTN. She can be reached at kristin@wistechnology.com.

Comments

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