Scott Charney, Microsoft's Corporate Vice President for Trustworthy Computing, thinks that an "Internet tax" might offer a solution to hacking.
The idea that Internet service providers might somehow step up in the fight against malware is not new. The problem, however, is cost.
So who would foot the bill? "Maybe markets will make it work," Charney said. But an Internet usage tax might be the way to go. "You could say it's a public safety issue and do it with general taxation," he said.
Let's crunch the numbers. Some 90% of computers run Windows. According to Microsoft there are some 3.8 million botnet PCs worldwide, with some 1 million in the US. These botnets are responsible for the spam and phishing emails you get, denial of service attacks and other nefarious activities. They're a big problem.
Where does this idea come from that we should all have to chip in to fight this war of botnets? It's safe to say that the majority of these botnet systems are Windows-based systems (I'm pegging this number at close to 99% of the botnet PCs). Let's also not forget that Microsoft has gone out of its way to create a monoculture where one OS dominates, through legal and illegal methods. So the idea that we should now all pay to solve a problem that Microsoft not only wanted to create, but made billions of dollars in the process is frankly a ridiculous idea.
So, what needs to be done? Well, here are a few things that would help:
- OEMs should pre-load free antivirus software onto new PCs rather than trial crapware
- Other hardware vendors (router, wireless equipment) could also offer free antivirus software
- Microsoft Security Essentials should be offered to all PCs without up-to-date antivirus installed
- Microsoft needs to make keeping Windows Update switched on by all more compelling ... and this includes those running pirated operating systems
- Rather than pushing a Windows Genuine advantage scan in exchange for software downloads, Microsoft should instead offer to scan systems for malware
- Banks and other financial institutions need to be more insistent that customers using online services are protecting their PCs (some do, others don't)
Nowhere does people being taxed come into the equation.