Virus guru lays security blame at ISPs' doors

Should the security buck should stop with service providers?

Should the security buck should stop with service providers?

ISPs need to take responsibility for protecting users from viruses, a leading security expert has claimed. David Perry, director of public education for Trend Micro and a former adviser to the US government on computer security, told silicon.com: "80 per cent of all viruses are coming from the internet. Why isn't your ISP offering you virus protection?" He claimed that ISP screening is the only way to halt an exponential rise in virus infections and called on service providers to offer "clean water at the tap" for their customers. Currently, the battle against viruses is being lost because it is too difficult to keep users up to date with the latest anti-virus software, Perry said. "The problem today is not the detection of new viruses, it's the deployment of viruses to 300 million internet users. I can't deploy to 300 million users, but I can certainly deploy to 10,000 ISPs," he added. Recent viruses such as Magistr and SirCam are able to carry on spreading for months after they have first been detected because their design is subtler than those that caused earlier outbreaks such as the Love Bug and Melissa. Perry's comments were echoed by Alex Shipp, senior anti-virus technologist for security firm MessageLabs, who told silicon.com: "We will continue to see internet performance degrade until something is done. I don't think anything will change, however, until this problem is tackled at ISP level." Shipp cited the example of the SirCam virus, which shows no sign of abating despite being in the wild for more than two months. He said that while the Love Bug or Melissa could be brought under control relatively quickly because users were alerted to the specific text of the virus and could avoid it regardless of whether they had the appropriate anti-virus software, SirCam cannot be detected so easily because the text changes. This means it requires up-to-date virus software to prevent its spread. MessageLabs predicts there will be one virus for every good email in less than 10 years, at the current rate of growth. Currently approximately one in every 300 emails carries a virus. Shipp said he thought ISPs were holding back because of fears over the cost of implementing the technology. ISPs are also thought by some to have concerns over legal liability if virus protection fails. A limited number of ISPs do offer anti-virus protection for users, but many free consumer-led ISPs do not. For the full video interview with David Perry, logon to silicon.com on Wednesday afternoon. For related news, see:
ISPs and the fight against viruses
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