AusCERT: Phishing-specific XML format to go live in July

Incident Object Description Exchange Format (IODEF) XML Schema to become IETF standard

A common e-crime reporting format to electronically report fraudulent activities will be fully operational by July, 2007.

Anti-Phishing Working Group (APWG) secretary general, Peter Cassidy, said a structured data model is necessary to improve incident reporting, share information and to allow forensic searches and investigations.

Cassidy said the first base specification was submitted in June 2005 and the Incident Object Description Exchange Format (IODEF) XML Schema with e-crime relevant extensions will be a recognized IETF standard in about six weeks.

He said reporting will be automated with greater ease using a standard schema.

"For example, a Korean CERT (Computer Emergency Response Team) reporting an incident can send it to a French Bank," he said.

Cassidy said the APWG first started collecting data in October 2003.

To date, he said 2.5 million records of attacks and 13,500 URLs are added to the database every month.

Cassidy said the block list is updated every five minutes and is a 10MB file used as a historical archive, most commonly used by browser developers.

URLs are sent by banks, institutions, retailers, CERTs and volunteer organizations.

"We are currently talking to ISPs to increase phishing data from the field," Cassidy said.

"Reporting is improving. The average time live for a phishing site is now four days: we should be able to reduce this to a single day.

"We want to make it harder for organized crime by frustrating them and pulling down the sites as quickly as possible.

"We don't want it to be easy for them to make a profit so they have to return to old standby's like extortion and drugs."

Cassidy estimates there are upwards of 50 full-time phishing gangs operating worldwide at any given time.

While four days may seem a long time, Cassidy said the average was well over a week when the working group was first established.

He said it can depend on reaching the right person within an organization.

"We have ISPs that can bring down sites in minutes but there are some organizations that have an approval process that has to be cleared by three levels of management; even after 20 faxes and two weeks later nothing is done," Cassidy said.

"Some organizations just aren't interested. I still see sites operating four weeks later in countries where there is no CERT or law enforcement infrastructure."

The APWG is also in the process of establishing a Contact System for Abuse Managers. It is currently in beta with 1600 companies.

Cassidy said it allows companies to communicate and costs $25 to enrol.

"If an ISP finds back-records on its server it can immediately contact the bank," he said.

"We have 2700 members from vendors, to banks and law enforcement. Now we want to organize a federating protocol

"If we federate the main players then banking associations and trade groups will be joined across the globe."

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