Microsoft: Keep internet healthy by isolating infected PCs

Computers infected with malware should be disconnected from the internet to prevent them posing a risk to the rest of the online community, a top security executive at Microsoft has urged.

In a paper delivered to the ISSE 2010 computer security conference in Berlin on Wednesday, Scott Charney, Microsoft's vice president of Trustworthy Computing, proposed the move as part of a re-think of global IT cybersecurity along public-health lines. Quarantining infected PCs would help prevent malware from spreading and could help battle botnets, he said.

"If a device is known to be a danger to the internet, the user should be notified and the device should be cleaned before it is allowed unfettered access to the internet, minimising the risk of the infected device contaminating other devices," Charney said.

He called for companies and governments to work together on a "global collective defence" to ensure the safety of the internet and the world's online community. The strategy should be implemented and defined in the same way that nations define and deal with public-health problems, he added.

"In the physical world, international, national and local health organisations identify, track and control the spread of disease, which can include — where necessary — quarantining people to avoid the infection of others. Simply put, we need to improve and maintain the health of consumer devices connected to the internet in order to avoid greater societal risk," Charney wrote in a blog post announcing the paper.

Botnets, which are networks of millions of compromised computers, are increasingly popular among cybercriminals as a means for distributing spam or launching attacks against specific targets. In May, VeriSign said that its online investigation found botnets for rent for as little as 6 an hour, meaning that less-skilled criminals are able to use them for attacks.

A collective global approach to cybersecurity should help make up for failings in individual defensive measures, according to Charney. "Commonly available cyber-defences such as firewalls, antivirus and automatic updates for security patches can reduce risk, but they're not enough," he said. "Despite our best efforts, many consumer computers are host to malware or are part of a botnet."

Charney noted international, national and private-sector efforts that he believes are good examples of the use of collective defence. These included Japan's Cyber Clean Center, which communicates with 70 internet service providers to identify botnet-infected machines and provides software to prevent reinfection. The Microsoft Active Response for Security (Mars) plan, meanwhile, provides technical resources for quelling local botnet infections, such as the recent Waledac botnet.


Driver’s Licenses for the Internet?

Today’s idea: Let’s have “driver’s licenses” for the Internet to counter online fraud, hackers and espionage, a Microsoft executive suggests. Internet | Maybe on your busy junket to the World Economic Forum in Davos last week you missed the panel where Craig Mundie, Microsoft’s chief research and technology officer, offered up the Internet licensing proposal above. Barbara Kiviat of the Curious Capitalist blog was there, and summarizes the idea thusly:

What Mundie is proposing is to impose authentication. He draws an analogy to automobile use. If you want to drive a car, you have to have a license (not to mention an inspection, insurance, etc.). If you do something bad with that car, like break a law, there is the chance that you will lose your license and be prevented from driving in the future. In other words, there is a legal and social process for imposing discipline. Mundie imagines three tiers of Internet I.D.: one for people, one for machines and one for programs (which often act as proxies for the other two).

Now, there are, of course, a number of obstacles to making such a scheme be reality. Even here in the mountains of Switzerland I can hear the worldwide scream go up: “But we’re entitled to anonymity on the Internet!” Really? Are you? Why do you think that?

Mundie [above] pointed out that in the physical world we are implicitly comfortable with the notion that there are certain places we’re not allowed to go without identifying ourselves. Are you allowed to walk down the street with no one knowing who you are? Absolutely. Are you allowed to walk into a bank vault and still not give your name? Hardly.

The Internet was never originally intended as a worldwide system of mass communication, Ms. Kiviat notes, let alone a largely anonymous one. But that is what it grew into, replete with feisty commenters like those reacting to her post. [The Curious Capitalist]

More Recommended Reading:

"To Achieve World Government it is necessary to remove from the minds of men their individualism, their loyalty to family traditions and national identification" Brock Chisholm - Director of the World Health Organization
"A society whose citizens refuse to see and investigate the facts, who refuse to believe that their government and their media will routinely lie to them and fabricate a reality contrary to verifiable facts, is a society that chooses and deserves the Police State Dictatorship it's going to get." Ian Williams Goddard

The fact is that "political correctness" is all about creating uniformity. Individualism is one of the biggest obstacles in the way of the New World Order. They want a public that is predictable and conditioned to do as it's told without asking questions.

"The two enemies of the people are criminals and government, so let us tie the second down with the chains of the Constitution so the second will not become the legalized version of the first."   Thomas Jefferson

America the Beautiful

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