'Active cookies' to the rescue

An Indiana University scientist is behind a new company called RavenWhite that is exploiting cookie technology to protect Web users from identity theft and other online threats.

"While cookies were merely designed to identify users, active cookies are designed to authenticate users," according to the company Web site.

The company's founders say active cookies protect against such domain spoofing threats as pharming, where end users are scammed by being directed to a bogus Web site. The active cookies are designed to protect against newer threats, such as a technique for hijacking Wi-Fi connections and redirecting end users to suspect sites without them ever knowing.

RavenWhite says its basic technology will not protect an end user who shifts from computer to computer or reconfigures his or her browser. But the company is working on server-side technology to try to combat that shortcoming, such as by providing administrators with more challenging questions with which to authenticate end users.

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