Web users demand more protection from ISPs

Survey: Most users want their ISPs to give them better protection from malicious attacks and are even willing to pay more for it

The majority of Web users believe that Internet service providers should bear the burden for protecting their customers from spam, viruses and other malicious attacks, latest research has found.

Research company MORI found that 58 percent of 1,006 consumer respondents said ISPs needed to work harder to protect their customers. Seventeen percent said the IT industry was responsible for securing them against attacks, while only a small number (11 percent) thought it was the government's duty.

"Most people realise but don't say that they expect ISPs to care about cleaning the service, rather than leaving it to the desktop [users]," said Andrew Radley, senior product manager for StreamShield, the company that commissioned MORI's research. "That's a straight message to the ISP community."

But the respondents also said they were willing to pay more for a better service and would even switch providers to avoid the attacks. 54 percent of those surveyed said they would pay up to £2 more a month for a better service, while almost a third (32 percent) said they would change ISPs.

Last week, BT's head of security said that BT could protect customers from denial-of-service attacks, but would not provide the service for free.

"Why should ISPs do something?" said John Regnault, head of security technology for BT. "It's very much as if people want something for nothing. It is a question of what a customer is prepared to buy."

Radley believes ISPs are moving to protect their business customers: "The ISPs I've spoken to are keen to clean up their networks. It tends to be the business environment networks that pay."

"What is less common is action on the retail-orientated side to prevent collective attacks being generated. But that's coming up as a priority," Radley added.

The results came from a 2004 MORI consumer survey on Internet risks and threats.


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