Bruce Schneier at Wired writes:
“Financial companies have until now avoided taking on phishers in a serious way, because it’s cheaper and simpler to pay the costs of fraud. That’s unacceptable, however, because consumers who fall prey to these scams pay a price that goes beyond financial losses, in inconvenience, stress and, in some cases, blots on their credit reports that are hard to eradicate. As a result, lawmakers need to do more than create new punishments for wrongdoers — they need to create tough new incentives that will effectively force financial companies to change the status quo and improve the way they protect their customers’ assets. Unfortunately, the California law does nothing to address this.
The problem of phishing cannot be solved solely by focusing on the first trend: the availability of personal information. Criminals are clever people, and if you defend against a particular tactic such as phishing, they’ll find another. In the space of just a few years, we’ve seen phishing attacks get more sophisticated. The newest variant, called “spear phishing,” involves individually targeted and personalized e-mail messages that are even harder to detect. And there are other sorts of electronic fraud that aren’t technically phishing.
The actual problem to be solved is that of fraudulent transactions. Financial institutions make it too easy for a criminal to commit fraudulent transactions, and too difficult for the victims to clear their names. The institutions make a lot of money because it’s easy to make a transaction, open an account, get a credit card and so on. For years I’ve written about how economic considerations affect security problems. They can put security countermeasures in place to prevent fraud, detect it quickly and allow victims to clear themselves. But all of that’s expensive. And it’s not worth it to them.”