Comcast to send infected-PC alerts

Comcast to send infected-PC alerts

Summary: Comcast is launching a trial of a new automated service that will warn broadband customers of possible virus infections, if the computers are behaving as if they have been compromised by malware.

Comcast is launching a trial on Thursday of a new automated service that will warn broadband customers of possible virus infections, if the computers are behaving as if they have been compromised by malware. For instance, a significant overnight spike in traffic being sent from a particular Internet Protocol address could signal that a computer is infected with a virus taking control of the system and using it to send spam as part of a botnet.

The largest residential Internet service provider in the United States, with 15.3 million consumer customers, also is alerted to compromised customer computers when an IP address of one of its customers is identified as the source of spam on an industry spam list.

Customers in Denver are set to begin receiving notifications that their system may be infected with a virus or other malware via a pop-up message in the browser, as part of the new free service, called Comcast Constant Guard. The "Service Notice" will include a link to a Comcast security Web site where customers can follow a set of instructions to remove the malware from their computer.

Read more of "Comcast alerts customers to infected PCs" on CNET News.

Topics: Hardware, CXO, Malware, Security

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  • I hope they do it right

    A good 5-6 years ago, I got e-mail from my ISP saying my computer was infected.

    I went and checked every computer I had. Went so far as scanning with a security tool that wasn't publicly available. Nothing. Nada. Squat. Everything was fine.

    After an hour on the phone with them, finally getting escalated to someone with a clue, we diagnosed the "problem". My Spam Assassin install was DoSing their servers because they cached every negative request to blackhole lists instead of applying logic to it.
  • Will they send infected Mac alerts, too?

    Just wonderin', you know?
    • It appears to be platform agnostic

      so I would say yes.
    • Probably

      it looks like they're just looking at unusual patterns in Internet traffic from your computer, regardless of your operating system, so it seems very likely that it will support Macintosh, and all other systems as well.
  • RE: Comcast to send infected PC alerts

    Things should be busy for them, seeing that all of the computers I have cleaned infections from over the past 8 months were using Comcast's distribution of McAfee.
  • Stupid criminals...LOL!

    Oh yeah, I'm very serious for calling criminals,
    stupid... Comcast is going in the right direction
    for notifying their customers.

    I'm using Microsoft Security Essentials and
    (Google it) in a Windows Vista Ultimate 64-bit
    system. :)
    Grayson Peddie
  • RE: Comcast to send infected PC alerts

    Good idea.
  • Here come the malware writers

    posing as Comcast
    you are infected
    click here
    blah blah blah
  • Guarded Optimism

    Total indifference and inaction serves no ones interests. I look forward to watching how this plays out. Will it be effective in contacting the computer owners? Will it turn into some kind of a revenue stream for Comcast, or will it simply be a mutual interest endeavor.

    I sympathize with the ISP's dilema. The more they try to help their customers be malware free, the deeper they risk getting pulled into a quagmire.

    As for scanning PCs for infections, that's less and less effective. And if a computer is already rooted with a 3rd generation nasty, what is a typical consumer to do?

    Consumers could install something like my company's AppGuard to block what their signature-based software misses. There are other good products too. But, again, if the computer is already rooted...

    This brings me to a simple idea that operational reality would probably tear apart. ISP's would make boot disks available to their customers. These disks would upload user files and settings to an ISP server, or to a local hard drive provided by the consumer, and a fresh install of whatever Windows OS they've been using would be done. The user files would then be placed back on the computer. Obviously, privacy issues must be addressed (Mozy, Carbonite, etc.) and it would be useful to scan all user files (scanning is worth a try). This might require considerable support from Microsoft, maybe even free or low-cost upgrades to newer operating systems (free for Win98 to XP, low cost to Win 7).

    Again, operational realities and all of the things that could go wrong... Its probably better for the ISP's that they only provide consumers with suspected malware infestations, contact information for local IT services as well as a short list of things consumers can do.

    Home computers are frightening things. More disturbing is that a lot of people use them for work too. That's why I wrote the blog below:
  • Epic FAIL alert!

    Given the amount of time I spend telling clients that those sorts of pop-ups are bogus, This is just going to confuse the issue with customers further. Most of them have a hard enough time telling the difference between a legitimate AV alert and a bogus pop-up generated by a website. Apparently Comcast is blissfully unaware of this particular malware tactic.

    This is made of so much FAIL I don't even know where to start.
    • Based on my experience w/ comcast

      Based on my experience w/ comcast tech support I'm not surprised they don't know this could backfire.