ISPs urged to clean up the internet

Shut down the botnets and stamp out cybercrime...
Written by Will Sturgeon, Contributor on

Shut down the botnets and stamp out cybercrime...

ISPs have come in for fresh criticism at the InfoSecurity Europe conference from vendors and security experts who believe they are ducking the chance to clean up the internet.

The huge volumes of data travelling across ISPs' networks each day contain the spam, spyware and viruses which are making the internet an increasingly dangerous place to do business. But they aren't volunteering time or resources to solve the issue.

Speaking at InfoSecurity, security guru Bruce Schneier, CTO of Counterpane, said the ISPs are too preoccupied with making money to concern themselves with the welfare of their customers.

"The normal capitalist structure means it's never going to happen because it's not in their interests."

Pete Simpson, ThreatLab manager at Clearswift, said: "The ISPs have only got two considerations - cost and the principle of intervention. If they show any sign of intervention then they're worried it may seem they are assuming responsibility.

"And then where do you draw the line? Do they then have to take responsibility for porn on their networks?"

However, Simpson agreed that the ISPs do carry more power than any other party to clear up the threats and menaces of the internet. "But they don't really want to know," he added.

Matt Peachey, MD of IronPort, told silicon.com: "The ISPs know they're spamming but they're reluctant to put things in place which block mail."

IronPort's Peachey said: "With ISPs it's not about what comes into their networks, it's about what goes out."

Data held on IronPort's Senderbase.org database reveals the tip of the iceberg regarding the problems ISPs could address.

Senderbase shows a detailed breakdown of all IP addresses sending email and the ISPs used. Home users such as those on Telewest's Blueyonder service are sending hundreds of thousands of emails daily - unwitting recruits into 'botnets', or networks of compromised machines.

The part they play in providing bandwidth on these networks is responsible for many of the problems we currently associate with the dark side of the internet - such as spam, spyware, viruses and worms.

Clearswift's Simpson said: "The ISPs could close down these botnets and clean up the internet, perhaps not overnight but certainly in short order."

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