Microsoft Applies For Patent Telling You If A Website Is On A List Of Phishing Sites

from the non-obvious? dept

It seems that every few days when new patents are announced there are a few gems from Microsoft. Take, for example, Microsoft's latest patent application on Phishing Detection, Prevention, and Notification. If they truly came up with an innovative way to stop phishing attacks, that would be interesting. Instead, it appears that the patent is for looking at the URLs found in an email or visited by a website, comparing them to a known list of phishing sites -- and then alerting you that the link might be fraudulent. In other words, it's the most obvious anti-phishing system around (and one that's proven to not be all that effective). If someone were to describe to you the problem of phishing, and ask you how to stop it, this would be nearly everyone's first attempt. It's hard to see how something so obvious deserves patent protection -- but the way our system works these days, the whole "non-obvious" requirement has been pretty much tossed out. Update: Clarifying that this is simply a patent application, not a granted patent -- but the fact that Microsoft even thinks it's worth applying for such a patent highlights the way the system works these days.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Steak, Feb 16th, 2007 @ 8:06pm

    Don't panic

    I wouldn't panic yet. As stupid as the USPTO is with its willingness to grant anything (really, anything), I'm sure this one will get defeated by some obvious prior art.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    identicon
    B, Feb 17th, 2007 @ 1:29am

    Funny

    Thats funny, that phishing update for IE on my copy of windows vista is the one that keeps failing everyday to update.

     

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  3.  
    identicon
    MrPaladin, Feb 17th, 2007 @ 4:54am

    Google maps should sue...

    they already have a map program that will check for sites that are the best fishing locations and notify you if the sites your looking for are already on a list...

     

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  4.  
    identicon
    Erica, Feb 17th, 2007 @ 5:06am

    Oh wait! Lemme go patent my comment...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    identicon
    James, Feb 17th, 2007 @ 5:33am

    Microsoft Patents Telling You If A Website Is On A

    I totally agree but I think it's better to be safre than sorry. Yes the system may have flaws but better flawed than to be put at.

     

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  6.  
    identicon
    Anonymous jerk, Feb 17th, 2007 @ 5:51am

    Firefox

    Firefox already does that, as well as the eBay toolbar and a dozen other apps. Wonder who will get sued first?

     

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  7.  
    identicon
    LJSeinfeld, Feb 17th, 2007 @ 6:45am

    Just ask Bill Gates

    Well.. if you saw Bill Gates' recent interview on TV, Microsoft invents TONS of cool innovative things that people steal from them before Microsoft can actually bring them to market. I'm sure Firefox and the eBay toolbar are just more examples of people stealing Microsoft's legendarily great ideas.

     

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  8.  
    identicon
    paul, Feb 17th, 2007 @ 7:41am

    Patent this

    Pretty soon Microsoft will patent pissing

     

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  9.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 17th, 2007 @ 8:22am

    I'm suprised they havent put patents on their exploits.. Lol speech recognition comes to mind.

     

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  10.  
    icon
    slimcat (profile), Feb 17th, 2007 @ 9:05am

    Re: Patent this

    That may already be covered under Steve Ballmer's patent on squirting.

     

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  11.  
    identicon
    TriZz, Feb 17th, 2007 @ 10:16am

    So...

    If Microsoft didn't do it, someone else would have. The way things have been going with patent lawsuits, I'm sure Microsoft did this to avoid getting sued later, as opposed to suing other later.

    ...just my $.02

     

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  12.  
    identicon
    SomeOne, Feb 17th, 2007 @ 10:21am

    Prior Art!

    Woah, I have been taking care of phishing sites longer than their file date of the patent. Proxy plus a list from www.stearns.org takes care of the BS and tells you why it was blocked... That and common sense along with NOT using the dominate email client and browser helps too.

     

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  13.  
    identicon
    Carson. A., Feb 17th, 2007 @ 11:03am

    MAKE THIS PUBLIC.

    This information should be posted on every single major new publication. Granting patents to simple stuff like this prevents anybody from being able to use those common sense techniques in their products - therby giving monopoly on "common sense ideas" to some corporate giant whos only intention is to grab as much cash from the marketplace as possible. This is evil.

     

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  14.  
    identicon
    skeene, Feb 17th, 2007 @ 12:04pm

    prior art?

    doesn't this infringe on santa's patent on making a list and checking it?

     

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  15.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 17th, 2007 @ 12:35pm

    Re: Just ask Bill Gates

    Anybody could think of this..... To say that it is innovative is a joke. Think about it.....the is the very heart of anti-phising. I'm 100% sure someone thought of this before microsoft.

    Actually, IE7 is mostly firefox ideas (firefox came way before IE7). Microsoft may have some original ideas, but their integratity is quickly fading

    One think about microsoft is that they are killing their "free" programs with advertisings. For example, Windows Live Messenger has 16 tabs (mostly ads) plus one big ad at the bottom. Or windows media player is begining to suffer as well.

     

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  16.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 17th, 2007 @ 2:24pm

    Mike,

    Why are you wasting everyone's time by commenting on just a patent "application"? Applications are meaningless. If this patent gets issued as-is, then it would warrant a discussion about it's obviousness.

    But, by condemning the patent system for a patent that hasn't even been examined yet is just pathetic and simply shows how desperate you must be to get people to agree with you, even if you have to make up some false issues!

     

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  17.  
    icon
    Mike (profile), Feb 17th, 2007 @ 2:43pm

    Re:

    Why are you wasting everyone's time by commenting on just a patent "application"?

    Actually, I was clear enough in the post that it was an application, not a granted patent, so I've clarified. Sorry about that. However, I disagree that it's a wasted effort.

    Applications are meaningless. If this patent gets issued as-is, then it would warrant a discussion about it's obviousness.

    No. Applications are far from meaningless. If it were just some random inventor it might be, but the fact that a company like Microsoft thinks that this is worth applying for a patent over shows just how screwed up the system is. It shows that the incentives aren't towards innovation but towards getting as many patents as possible, and that doesn't help anyone.

    So I disagree completely that it's not an issue. If the patent system were functioning properly companies like Microsoft wouldn't be applying for such obvious patents and we wouldn't be wasting money over such applications. It's bad for the system, it's bad for the industry and it's bad for the economy.

    If you think that's meaningless, that's a different issue, but I tend to disagree. It's extremely important.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
    identicon
    Yeah Right, Feb 17th, 2007 @ 3:14pm

    Re: Don't panic

    Since when has the USPTO looked at prior art? If it has, it's the exception to the rule.

    It's part of why reform is desired.

    If a David has prior art to Microsoft's Goliath and the patent is overturned, the Bible better rewrite that particular matchup.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
    identicon
    Snicker, Feb 17th, 2007 @ 3:18pm

    Voice recognition? Flashback to '94

    At the '94 Tech Ed, William Henry Gates III was looking to the future and stated, "We are committed to 1996 as the year of voice recognition".

    Then again, there was "Project Tiger" in '92. It was a video server which never made it out of an elite alpha group of testers. If they'd only finished what they started, eh?

     

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  20.  
    identicon
    Microsoft Wonk, Feb 17th, 2007 @ 3:32pm

    Microsoft Patents

    "The day Microsoft makes something which doesn't suck is when they start making vacuum cleaners.

     

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  21.  
    identicon
    A. Tomilsson, Feb 17th, 2007 @ 3:34pm

    Re: Prior Art!

    You better take a fresh look at Stearns' site; re: "tells you why it was blocked..."

    His site doesn't have a block list. It's got a list of tools in files, his PGP key, his pobox.com address, but no list of phishing offenders.

     

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  22.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 17th, 2007 @ 3:36pm

    Re: Re:

    "the fact that a company like Microsoft thinks that this is worth applying for a patent over shows just how screwed up the system is"

    No kidding.

    Microsoft patented a new variety of apple tree and "How to Tell if a Baseball Game is Exciting".

     

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  23.  
    identicon
    Duane Nickull, Feb 18th, 2007 @ 10:55am

    Phishing for Phun and Prophit

    Actually, the mechanism itself (from my limited understanding of it) is sohpisticated and unique enough to warrant a patent. Comparing the email URL presentation (not the actual URI but how it is presented) to the URI of the site it leads to with P&S heuristics is not trivial and while i find myself siding with MS on this one. It is a good feature to have.

    The USPTO (and other NGO's like WIPO) on the other hand, should really sit back and take stock of themselves and how they serve our society. I continue to rant against them as I believe their existance must be justified by their ability to show us how what they do benefits us all, not just an elite few.
    http://technoracle.blogspot.com/2006/03/my-comments-to-wto-and-chinese.html

     

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  24.  
    identicon
    TicoRey, Feb 18th, 2007 @ 11:04am

    Re: by erica patent for comment

    Yeah, better apply for a patent on the comment. You've already jumped on the bandwagon. Agrreed?

    pat. pend.

     

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  25.  
    identicon
    TeesMyBody.com T-Shirts, Feb 18th, 2007 @ 12:08pm

    uhh...

    uhh... I think I'll just stick with Firefox and be done with it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26.  
    identicon
    Synonymous Howard, Feb 18th, 2007 @ 3:17pm

    Too funny

    Why are you wasting everyone's time by commenting on just a patent "application"?

    You choose to read a blog and spend time posting a response with your accusation that the blogger is wasting your time. You might wish to patent the logic you used to come to that conclusion. It is truly unique and innovative.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27.  
    identicon
    Steve, Feb 18th, 2007 @ 3:47pm

    Anti Phishing

    Um i'm looking at a anti phishing website scanner right now and it from McAfee and it's called "Site Advisor" and it workes great especially when i do a yagoo or googel search next to every result there is a Check mark or an X telling me whether or not it a a fishing site and additionallly whether or not there are pop ups

     

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  28.  
    identicon
    Steve, Feb 18th, 2007 @ 3:47pm

    Anti Phishing

    Um i'm looking at a anti phishing website scanner right now and it from McAfee and it's called "Site Advisor" and it workes great especially when i do a yagoo or googel search next to every result there is a Check mark or an X telling me whether or not it a a fishing site and additionallly whether or not there are pop ups

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29.  
    identicon
    Chris, Feb 18th, 2007 @ 8:14pm

    yet more laws to help people never have to take re

    Here we go again, instead of people wanting to take the 3 seconds out of their day to determine whether they're being scammed or not, they'd rather waste tax dollars on letting some company put up a patent (gov institution funded by taxes) then let lawyers squabble over who applied first, yet had the rights before the application was submitted... all in front of a judge (funded by taxes) so we can be sure that www.spysherrif.com isn't ripping us a new one. Isn't American capitalism the best?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30.  
    identicon
    fred, Feb 18th, 2007 @ 8:38pm

    how about bluS

    Did Micro$oft already patented the Blue Screen of Death???
    How about deleting Linux partitions on a windows install? did they patent that too??

     

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  31.  
    identicon
    Georgi, Feb 19th, 2007 @ 3:30am

    the day when they...

    ... patent the method of Windows pirate copying and selling, they will win

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  32.  
    identicon
    WarTech, Feb 20th, 2007 @ 9:16am

    Resistance is futile

    The freedom to assimilate

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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