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Leader: Telewest rolls out suburban security

A positive move - but only if customers are forced to seize the opportunity
Written by silicon.com staff, Contributor

A positive move - but only if customers are forced to seize the opportunity

Whoever first coined the phrase 'you can lead a horse to water but you can't make it drink' may have had some insight into the conundrum facing ISPs charged by all and sundry with the task of cleaning up the internet.

Having eventually succumbed to the notion that ISPs must provide protection to their customers from the nasties that lurk online, we now enter an age of waiting for customers to wise up and take advantage of the services they are being offered by companies such as Telewest, which launched its PCguard today.

Far more effective would be for the ISPs to clean data centrally - mirroring the managed security service model being pushed out to large businesses - but that's still a road they aren't prepared to go down.

The problem with the Telewest model is that by providing security services to download - no matter how easy they make it - all they are doing is leading the proverbial horse to water.

Telewest has announced its PCguard service just three months after one million of its users were blacklisted over claims that infected customer PCs were running open proxies which accounted for a vast amount of the world's spam email.

For the situation to have reached such a head back in May was a major failing on Telewest's part.

The company could see those traffic levels, and it will surely have realised that its 850,000 customers could not be generating those levels of email through legitimate means - even if they were emailing every friend and family member in their address book several times per day. But for too long it did very little about it.

Putting a service out there may ease its conscience and is undoubtedly a step in the right direction but the last thing Telewest can afford to do now is sit back and think 'well that's that sorted' because the tools themselves are useless, and the gesture hollow, without take-up among its customers.

Now that the company has injected momentum into the notion of secure computing in suburbia, it must finish the job it has started. It must plug away until the message gets through and until users understand why they must install these services if they don't have similar in place already.

By doing so, others may follow and the vast problem of insecure computers in homes nationwide may begin to diminish.

The PCguard service is available for download free to customers on the Telewest blueyonder website, and a spokeswoman told us they will be doing mailshots to existing customers. New customers will get PCguard on their installation CD.

Hopefully they are already thinking about their next move if this fails to bring customers into the secure fold.

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