Security Tip of the Week: Iconix Email Icon Identifier
Everyone knows how prevalent Phishing scams have been, especially if you’ve been reading our newsletters. These soulless attackers use any technique they can to gain your trust long enough to give them what they want, and the majority of these attacks emanate through email.
Most users have anti-virus software to protect them from viral attacks, but what about phishing scams? URL verification software is usually a browser plug-in that can verify the URL of the site you are currently visiting, like MSN anti-phishing. 
The industry is starting to wake up, however, and implement anti-phishing protection in some of the newer utility and security suites. I ran across a free download just released in Beta called Iconix. It can easily be set up to see if your email sender is who they say they are and throw obstacles and barriers in the attacker’s way.
Iconix is a beta version of what I think is potentially a big business, more a service than an application. It’s really a way to verify emails and senders. A service that allows you to see trusted friends and test the legitimacy of online entities with a quick glance. Email sender verification is the main focus of the program, but it has other features that I will get into in a moment.
The program allows you to import your address book from your current email accounts (Iconix calls this your buddy list), and automatically assigns an icon to represent their emails in your Inbox. In addition to your friends, family, and business contacts, even businesses can be properly identified. For businesses that Iconix recognizes and can verify, it adds a “Truemark Icon” that is similar to the buddy icon. With the Truemark, you get other pertinent information on the business that is attempting to contact you. This verification process can actually leave a phishing scam dead in the water with little action on your part.
The program/service currently only supports Yahoo mail. Before non-Yahoo users send me those wonderfully affectionate emails, I want you to know that the list of compatible email clients Iconix plans to incorporate is impressive, including most of the well-known email account types. They will become available via the automatic update feature within Iconix. Take a look for yourself at the supported email clients in the works:
· Outlook Express
In addition, there are some other cool features. For example, after you set up your account the Iconix asks if you want to ask your friends if they want to download and register for the Iconix service as well. If both the receiver of an email and the sender both have Iconix, you have additional benefits. You can link out your buddy’s other online services, like photo albums or blogs. You also have the security option to manually add a signature to all your outgoing mail telling the recipient that you personally sent this email, which is a lot easier than the traditional way of doing this.
I truly believe all security and utility software are going to implement anti-phishing security into their products. Iconix and other programs like it are sure to spring up here and there as the phishing attacks keep becoming so prevalent, this is just the beginning.
Stay safe out there,