Introducing RISC: Working together to protect users

According to a recent Gallup poll, more people are worried about their online accounts being hacked than having their home broken into.With more and more of our digital lives accessible online, attackers are redoubling efforts to steal our personal information, and increasingly exploiting the interconnectedness of web services and apps to “leapfrog” from one account to the next.

Attackers often target multiple accounts across service providers for a single individual, knowing that users normally register for all their internet services with just a few email addresses. For example, a victim’s social networking account may send password recovery information to their email account, or they might log into her photo sharing account using their social network credentials. When criminals exploit these linkages, a single weak link can create a cascade of account takeovers.

That’s why the OpenID Foundation is pleased to announce a new effort dedicated to tackling this problem by working together on account defense. This month, a consortium of technology companies including Aol, Confyrm, Deutsche Telekom, Google, LinkedIn, Microsoft, Nomura Research Institute, and Ping Identity chartered an initiative to design an “early warning system” that safely and securely raises the alarm when accounts are at risk.

This Risk & Incident Sharing and Collaboration Working Group (RISC) initiative has set its initial mission as the development of standards designed to enable providers to prevent attackers from compromising linked accounts across multiple providers and coordinate in restoring accounts in the event of compromise.

The RISC group takes the approach that through open collaboration, the internet industry can design and deploy mechanisms that significantly lessen the impact of account hijacking. The effort focuses on sharing security events that occur at the individual account level, like the fact that a specific account was put on hold because of a suspected compromise. The group will also work with an attention to minimizing impacts on user privacy. The RISC group is not focused on identification or defense against malware or other system or network level attacks.

To learn more about the working group please visit the OpenID Foundation RISC Workgroup or contact Don Thibeau Executive Director,