Banks help govt fish the phishers

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The Federal government, in conjunction with major banks and credit card companies, has launched a campaign to stamp out internet banking fraud.

The Federal Government, in conjunction with major banks and credit card companies, has launched a campaign to stamp out internet banking fraud.

Australia's major banks, credit card companies and associations will provide specialist staff to the Australian High Tech Crime Centre (AHTCC) to form the 'Joint Banking and Finance Sector Investigation Team', which will investigate cases of online banking fraud or “phishing”.

"This is the first time we've ever done something like this," said Alistair MacGibbon, director of the AHTCC.

"It's the first time we've had people in the private sector work side by side with the police in a joint task force," he said.

The government also established a National Response Plan to provide banks and credit organisations a better mechanism to report phishing incidents to the AHTCC and The Australian Computer Emergency Response Team (AusCERT).

The government said that members of the task force would be exploring ways to educate consumers about internet banking fraud.

"They are doing the right thing," said Chris Poulos, managing director of online security firm Trend Micro.

Poulos said he thought the multi pronged effort would be more effective than having just “one type of soldier” in the battle against phishers.

Poulos also commended banks for improving their security measures.

Internet banking fraud, or phishing, is a technique used to gain personal information for the purposes of identity theft by using fraudulent email messages that appeared to come from legitimate businesses, commonly financial institutions.

These emails are designed to lure recipients into divulging personal data such as account numbers, passwords and credit card numbers, and often copy legitimate logos and message formats and even included links to websites that are convincing replicas of a company's home page.

Poulos said content filtering was the first and best line of technological defence.

AHTCC's MacGibbon added that improved authentication was also being looked at.

MacGibbon confirmed that the government was also working closely with the private online security sector to develop better security. He said private sector engagement was “critical”.

If faced with a suspect email, the government recommended that people shouldn't click on the links in the email, but check its authenticity by calling the relevant business, after getting the phone number from a different source to the suspect email. If people detect a scam, it should be reported to state or territory police.

The AHTCC is hosted by the Australian Federal Police and was established last year to coordinate a national approach to fighting serious, complex and multi-jurisdictional high-tech crimes.

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