New ICANN rules trigger phishing fears

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Cyrillic characters could be mistaken for Latin characters.

ICANN's recent decision to allow non-Latin characters in URL addresses is leading some experts to warn of a possible jump in phishing attacks.

Members of the Information Systems Audit and Control Association (ISACA) warned this week that the new characters could allow for new phishing attacks as malware writers take advantage of the similarities between characters in different languages.

ISACA conference committee member Peter Wood noted that languages such as Cyrillic can contain characters that, when displayed with certain fonts, are extremely difficult to tell apart from Latin characters.

Wood, who is also the founder of security firm First Base Technologies, warned that malware writers could take advantage of the new domain rules to register addresses with new characters that resemble Latin letters.

"Just when we think we have got people aware about the dangers of phishing and advice that says do not click on links in emails, it now becomes even more important," said Wood,

"Now more than ever people should type in the address of the website they wish to visit in their browser or go directly to the IP address."

The comments come as ICANN is preparing to roll out a new set of rules on the registry and management of domains. The rules would allow both the use on non-Latin characters and the addition of new top-level domains.

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