Microsoft released a test version of an anti-phishing toolbar on Wednesday. Europeans need not apply because the software is only available to US users. That's not because Microsoft reckons scam emails that form the basis of phishing attacks are a US-only problem but because the code is still only in beta, a Microsoft spokeswoman explained. The software giant has plans to expand the reach of the technology into different geographies by the end of the year.
The Microsoft Phishing Filter beta comes as an add-in to MSN Search Toolbar and was released at the same time as a games add-in, which providing one-click access to MSN Games. Microsoft Phishing Filter helps detect potential fraudulent web sites and divert visitors away from them via a set of personal whitelists, a blacklist system run by Microsoft and technology that spots characteristics common to phishing sites. The filter will block customers from entering personal data if the site is classified as fraudulent or provide warnings if a visited URLs contains characteristics common to a phishing Web site, but is not in the list of known wrong 'uns.
Digital certificate firms such as Comodo and GeoTrust have released anti-phishing tools targeted at consumers while Opera has built anti-fraud technology into the latest versions of its browser, so the technology isn't new as such. However Microsoft claims its the first firm to deliver the anti-phishing technology in a Web search toolbar.