In a recent interview, the CTO of Messagelabs Mark Sunner claimed the current attitude of ISPs to malware is akin to a water company pumping raw sewage to customers and expecting them to clean it up..
"Advanced scanning needs to be shifted upstream to the Internet level, where it is possible to be proactive as opposed to reactive. Governments really need to put additional pressure on the ISPs to take ownership of the problem, and to filter the connections that they are providing to businesses and to home users," he said.
At the time this analogy seemed a bit overblown but it is an attitude that seems to be gaining ground. Richard Clarke, ex-US cybersecurity Czar, intimated a similar line when he claimed service providers should be taking more responsibility when it comes to the rise in the number of distributed denial of service (DDOS) attacks – which cripple web sites by flooding them with requests from multiple sources.
Similar comments have also been made by the chief technology officer of betting exchange Betfair
while research company Mori released a survey this week claiming that that 58 percent of 1,006 consumer respondents said ISPs needed to work harder to protect their customers.
The response from ISPs has been unusually frank and abrupt in these days of PR-polished corporate communications. The UK's two leading telcos -- BT and Cable & Wireless -- responded to calls for them to do more about security and specifically DDoS attacks by claiming those kinds of 'extra' services don't come for free.
Government intervention is needed for anything to change it seems. Pressure could well come in the shape of the communications watchdog Ofcom if the organisation's remit eventually embraces Internet regulation.
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'Clean up this Internet effluent now'
Messagelabs CTO Mark Sunner claims that ISPs allowing unfiltered traffic to flow to customers is like a water authority pumping out raw sewage