Last month FCC boss Julius Genachowski urged ISP’s (Internet Service Providers) to beef up their security practices as it relates to it’s clients connections, citing Comcast and CenturyLink as two companies doing things right.
The available data on malware infections highlight the breadth and scope of the problem. For example:
- According to Symantec’s Norton Cybercrime Report 2011, 54 percent of online adults across the globe have experienced viruses or malware on their computers. At least 10 percent of adults are estimated to have been victims of phishing scams.
- Microsoft’s 2011 Security Intelligence Report estimated that approximately 10 million personal computers in the U.S. are infected with some type of malware every quarter.
- Over one million web site URLs are estimated to host malware, and the number of impressions of advertising containing malware is estimated at 3 million per day.
- One security solutions provider has estimated that “the probability that an average Internet user will hit an infected page after three months of Web browsing is 95 percent.”
- It is also estimated that between 10 and 15 percent of American households have a device which has been infected with a bot.
Comcast has been fairly aggressive on the security front, being the first to fully employ DNSSEC as well as the botnet alert system they launched in 2009.
Comcast engineer and Broadband Reports forum regular Jason Livingood testified before Congress this week (pdf) highlighting all of the things Comcast has accomplished, while noting that no matter what Comcast does, fully securing the network from threats (and human stupidity) is simply not possible:
There is no one silver bullet or quick fix, especially because the risks and threats change so very frequently and dramatically as new technology is developed and as bad actors in cyberspace continue to innovate. They constantly adapt to the latest counter-measures and employ new techniques and tools. As a result, our security protections will never be complete; we must continuously learn, adapt, and work to improve and develop new capabilities to meet the ever changing threats. Indeed, there is no realistic possibility that any network will ever be “completely” secure.
Now compare that to AT&T’s response ;
“We’ll see if you’re infected if your machine is a live connection,” said Amoroso, explaining that what AT&T and other ISPs frequently do now is email the customer with a notification that their machine appears to be infected. But going further to offer advice about cleaning up the machine, or even somehow cleaning the desktop, are not steps that AT&T regards as something it wants to get involved in.
“The detection mechanisms are imperfect,” said Amoroso, noting it’s unclear how AT&T would recommend detailed malware eradication instructions to every individual whose PC became infected with any of the vast array of malware types out there. In some instances, “You might actually have to re-image the machine,” he pointed out.
Comcast and AT&T both acknowledge that slowing or stopping botnets is all but impossible. But Comcast is willing to actually do something more than email you, Comcast will actually prevent you from accessing the internet until your system stops trying to contact known botnet command and control servers, potentially losing a client in the process. AT&T may send you an email.
Neither Comcast nor AT&T will tell you what they actually detected, or how to remove it. But again Comcast has stepped forward by providing a “Signature” service that sends a technician to your home, at a rather hefty hourly rate, if you find it to difficult to locate a Memphis PC Repair Guy to assist you.
As usual it comes down to the bottom line for AT&T, where investor returns and executive compensation seem to come first. Unless the NSA needs something, of course.
So the winner is Comcast in the Internet Security department, for going the extra mile in protecting it’s users from the cyber-criminals intent on stealing your identify, your passwords and your money.
Primary source: Karl Boad of Broadband Reports