Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Aussie Gov't Decides ISPs Aren't Responsible For Infected Computers

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the how-magnanimous-of-you dept.

Australia 129

c0lo writes "In a sudden outburst of common sense, the Australian senate decided that it is not the government's responsibility to force ISPs to disconnect infected computers from the Internet. Peter Coroneos, chief of the Internet Industry Association, used a car analogy that actually makes sense: 'It would be like forcing car manufacturers to take responsibility for bad drivers.'"

cancel ×

129 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Oh.... but.... (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34385634)

Was he talking bout Microsoft or Linux cars?

Not that great of a car analogy... (4, Informative)

grimdawg (954902) | more than 3 years ago | (#34385660)

It would be more like the government requiring car manufacturers to do something about car theft, since an 'infected computer' is essentially out of the user's control. And yes, the Australian government DOES require all cars to have an immobiliser.

Re:Not that great of a car analogy... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34385844)

All computers have a power button.

Re:Not that great of a car analogy... (3, Insightful)

Gaygirlie (1657131) | more than 3 years ago | (#34385988)

It would be more like the government requiring car manufacturers to do something about car theft, since an 'infected computer' is essentially out of the user's control.

No, it's not. It's out of control only when the user doesn't know about the virus, but once they know about it they have multiple ways of fixing the situation and then they are indeed fully in control. In a car theft being aware of your car being stolen doesn't change the situation, you're still not in control of it.

IMHO the original car analogy is close enough. Of course there's holes in it, but that's why it's an analogy. Its only purpose is to lay out the situation to laymen in a really basic way so that they mostly understand it. There is no such thing as a perfect analogy.

Re:Not that great of a car analogy... (1)

ediron2 (246908) | more than 3 years ago | (#34386762)

While we're at it, can we ban all mouthbreathers from consuming oxygen until they've gone through a rigorous training exercise for how to properly consume air?

("hmm, about 90 minutes should be sufficient ... .wait, no, no! I've got a headcold!")

Snark aside, "walking is a right" and yet where I live there are *months* where sidewalks on major streets are piled with icy road-plowing debris until nobody can reasonably walk them. This drops my enthusiasm for treating driving licenses and hypotheticals like yours as privileges.

BAD ANALOGY, MOUTH BREATHERS DON'T HURT OTHERS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34387006)

Mouth breathers generally don't hurt other people wheres an infected computer, quite possibly part of a huge botnet, is not only fully capable of harming others but its intent is to do harm to others. On the lighter side it may be just be spamming a shitload of phishing scams but when fully activated, and there is absolutely no doubt about this, it does indeed become a tool of destruction. What is the target this time? Government systems perhaps? Industrial controls? How about basic infrastructure, like the power grid, banking or transportation???? Get a Effing grip on reality here! Take down the effing puter if it is identified as being harmful.

I know if I saw a person in the act of causing harm, I would try to stop it. In the U.S. there are laws not only protecting citizens who act but also laws that require to act. (there can be a fine line seperating this from vigilanteism so be careful) Above all, a basic tenet of human existence is the right to self preservation. BOOM! HEADSHOT TO THE PERPETRATOR! You can try to debate or argue with that but you are attempting to defend the indefensible.

Perhaps once, soon not... (2, Interesting)

Mathinker (909784) | more than 3 years ago | (#34387940)

> but once they know about it they have multiple ways of fixing the situation and then they are indeed fully in control.

Unfortunately, the fact is that as time goes on, there are more and more components in computers which themselves are programmable (with microcode, for example) yet not easily "format-able" like the magnetic media of a hard disk. Hiding malware in these devices is a hot topic of current research (BIOS-level rootkits, WiFi adapters hosting malware), and could easily become reality for a capable, targeted attack (look at Stuxnet, for example, but imagine what might have been if the industrial controller had been sophisticated enough to have hosted a multihost malware which could spread itself back to "cleaned-up" computers).

I have the feeling that there will be a large gap (because of fear of loss of IP or control, or DMCA-like laws trying to protect copyright) in the tools hardware manufacturers give consumers to "sanitize" possibly infected hardware, and the ability of black hats to use infected hardware to gain more permanent control over infected computers.

Re:Not that great of a car analogy... (1)

Haeleth (414428) | more than 3 years ago | (#34388424)

IMHO the original car analogy is close enough.

No, it's total rubbish. The car manufacturer does not have any way of knowing whether the person who owns the car is a good driver or not; there is no way they could take responsibility for it even if they wanted to. ISPs, on the other hand, do have complete visibility of all traffic to and from their customers' computers, and could easily identify certain types of infection if they had the necessary permission to inspect that traffic.

Re:Not that great of a car analogy... (1)

oliverthered (187439) | more than 3 years ago | (#34385996)

it's more like failing a driving test and the government allowing people to use roads if they are bad drivers.

you can use a car off road if you like.

cars are more like computers in the case, and the internet the road.
The government is responsible for licensing people to drive cars on the road.

Re:Not that great of a car analogy... (2, Insightful)

HungryHobo (1314109) | more than 3 years ago | (#34386950)

The government however is *not* responsible for licensing people to communicate with each other over the internet.
And it should not be.

the day you need a liscence to have the privaliage of talking to other people is the day that free speach is well and truely dead and burried.

Re:Not that great of a car analogy... (1)

rwa2 (4391) | more than 3 years ago | (#34387078)

Um, it would probably be more like how everyone wants everyone else to use public transit.

How many people actually produce vs. consume on the internet anyway? Most people are just passengers.

Re:Not that great of a car analogy... (1)

HungryHobo (1314109) | more than 3 years ago | (#34387120)

What are you talking about?

Pretty much everyone produces emails, facebook updates and innane comments.
And anyone using the net produces packets as a matter of course.

Re:Not that great of a car analogy... (1)

rwa2 (4391) | more than 3 years ago | (#34387986)

Hey, most passengers have destinations too. And law enforcement can give the drivers citations for any passengers not wearing their safety belts.

All I'm really trying to do is help take this not-that-great-of-a-car-analogy as far as it can go before it sputters out in a cloud of hydrocarbons :P

Re:Not that great of a car analogy... (3, Informative)

Merls the Sneaky (1031058) | more than 3 years ago | (#34386234)

And yes, the Australian government DOES require all cars to have an immobiliser.

My 1982 VH Holden commodore would beg to differ. Maybe you meant all new cars?

Re:Not that great of a car analogy... (1)

grimdawg (954902) | more than 3 years ago | (#34386558)

My bad, it might be the WA govt. Requires it to be fitted if you sell the car too IIRC.

Re:Not that great of a car analogy... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34386260)

Not in Queensland...

Maybe you're thinking WA.

Re:Not that great of a car analogy... (1)

AbRASiON (589899) | more than 3 years ago | (#34387046)

I could mod you down but then you wouldn't know why!
Immobiliser for all cars? What on /earth/ are you talking about? No, just no.

Re:Not that great of a car analogy... (1)

sinrakin (782827) | more than 3 years ago | (#34387322)

'It would be like forcing car manufacturers to take responsibility for bad drivers.'" The government used to require car makers to include dashboard lights to tell drivers when to shift their manual transmission in order to get better mileage.Indirectly, in that other methods could have been used to, but they required car makers to help drivers get better mileage with some technique.

Re:Not that great of a car analogy... (1)

anomaly256 (1243020) | more than 3 years ago | (#34387438)

And yes, the Australian government DOES require all cars to have an immobiliser.

It does? Since when? Can you cite a reference? Being an AU resident who owns a new car and has been head-to-toe over every inch including playing with it's various CANBus devices on both networks and tweaked a few firmwares here and there, I have to say I haven't seen hide nor hair of an immobilizer yet. There was a jack for an OnStar unit, but it was never installed from the factory as this service isn't really used here...

Re:Not that great of a car analogy... (1)

mjwx (966435) | more than 3 years ago | (#34387814)

It would be more like the government requiring car manufacturers to do something about car theft, since an 'infected computer' is essentially out of the user's control.

Ultimately the government made this decision not only because it was the only real right decision as you've pointed out but it's the only real practical decision. How can an ISP tell the difference between a botnet and home email server without doing some kind of snooping that they are currently very reluctant to do.

Better off the block port 25 until the user requests it to be opened (this can easily be done via the web control site that all ISP's have to give each customer to monitor download limits, I believe iinet already does it).

And yes, the Australian government DOES require all cars to have an immobiliser.

That would be more like the AU govt mandating that Anti-virus be pre-installed on every Computer sold in Australia. Not only would the Mac Fanboys have a kitten but it's nowhere near as useful as it sounds (nor particularly enforceable). Unlike immobilisers it wont deter the bad guys one iota as it doesn't cut off their attack vector.

Re:Not that great of a car analogy... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34388428)

Bartkid sez,
I have always taken the view that the manufacturers of computers, because they do not sell pre-installed firewall and anti-virus software are just like a car manufacturer selling vehicles without brakes.
So, when my dad who knows nothing about this stuff, bought his computer, it was immediately infected.
So, when the computer became very useless, he took it back to the shop. Only then did he get sold the software to protect him. Thanks; sheesh.

A commenter further down draws an analogy to medical quarantine. I agree with this.
If a member of the population is infected with a nasty communicable illness, they need to be removed from the general population until healthy again.

I would think more ISPs would be more proactive in removing infectous zombified machines, if for nothing else but self-interest. Analogy #3 here: It is just like a baseball stadium security staff removing a beligerent drunk from other paying customers' seating so they may enjoy the game in peace.

Re:Not that great of a car analogy... (1)

Rasperin (1034758) | more than 3 years ago | (#34389978)

HAHAHHAHAHHA you think that immobilizer is for theft? Come now are you really that dense?

Backing off inappropriately (5, Insightful)

mysidia (191772) | more than 3 years ago | (#34385696)

'It would be like forcing car manufacturers to take responsibility for bad drivers.'"

No. it would be like making the DMV take responsibility for bad drivers on the highway, because the DMV issues the papers required for drivers to use the road.

The thing comparable "forcing car manufacturers to take responsibility", would be trying to force Dell, HP to take responsibility.

It should probably be noted that car manufacturers can be responsible for drivers going around in defective cars that have a high tendency to malfunction causing an accident unless the driver is an expert professional driver.

So it could make sense to hold Microsoft responsible for an OS with a horrible security record

Re:Backing off inappropriately (1, Interesting)

Sir_Sri (199544) | more than 3 years ago | (#34385796)

then you would have to let them bundle in an AV product and let all of the 3rd party security vendor's go out of business. One could even argue windows is not so much inherently defective, after all, they have a security alert telling you to have an AV, firewall and account control, and if you don't patch, well, the car company doesn't drive to your house to do repairs, you have to take the vehicle in for service when you get a note, MS sends you a note about a free patch, it's up to you to install it. Your car (to continue to analogy) might not come with winter tyres (or even tyres at all), but they sure expect you to have them when you operate the vehicle, and operating the vehicle without tyres well, sorta works, but it's not really a defect that the car doesn't work properly without them.

I think the broader issue is what to do about security and the generally bad behaviour of computers on a network. Like it or not the ISP's have become the connection between users and anything they can do harm to, so it may be that it falls to them, to in some way compel users to fix their stuff, and provide services to do so. It's that or we need licence repair shops where you can get your computer a 'repair' (security check, something along those lines) with a certificate saying it was safe as of this time. Which seems like a monumentally unnecessary challenge when your ISP probably knows if you have a virus, and can usually walk you through fixing it.

Re:Backing off inappropriately (1)

AlecC (512609) | more than 3 years ago | (#34387240)

I agree in part. The problem is not casting blame ("How did we get into this mess?") but finding a cure ("How do we get out of this mess?"). We want the most efficient way to eliminate viruses, both for end-users good and for the good of the net as a whole. Getting ISPs to cut off users is likely to produce a large amount of argument and start the process of disinfecting the users machine with a seriously negative attitude, which will be very counterproductive when dealing with someone who is, by definition, technically unskilled and probably somewhat frightened.

We need to convey to end users that antivirus protection is (a) their problem and (b) easy. And if they get infected, we need them to approach fixing the problem in a co-operative state of mind and treat the ISP (if that is who is helping the disinfection) as a knowledgeable friend not a an enemy who has just attacked you (via the cutoff).

I don't think anything sent over the Net will work, because whatever you do will be copied and subverted by the bad guys. People will recoil because it is expensive and old-fashioned, but I think that the only way to get through to people will be a notification via snail-mail that they are infected and they need to take action. Perhaps, rather than cutting them off, you could increase their rate and use the money to defray the cost of snail mail and to discount antivirus products (just a spur of the moment idea).

Re:Backing off inappropriately (1)

sjames (1099) | more than 3 years ago | (#34385804)

More correctly, it would be more like forcing toll road operators to take responsibility for preventing the use of a car in a crime.

Re:Backing off inappropriately (4, Insightful)

wisty (1335733) | more than 3 years ago | (#34386098)

More correctly, it would be more like forcing toll road operators to take responsibility for preventing the use of a car in a crime.

No, it's like forcing hookers to refuse service to customers with visible signs of infection.

Sorry, but the car analogies were getting on my nerves.

Re:Backing off inappropriately (2, Funny)

lilo_booter (649045) | more than 3 years ago | (#34386488)

Yeah, people who spout out car analogies are like bad drivers with broken wing mirrors.

Re:Backing off inappropriately (2, Funny)

Gaygirlie (1657131) | more than 3 years ago | (#34386048)

So it could make sense to hold Microsoft responsible for an OS with a horrible security record

I don't know whether to agree or disagree with you o_O Yeah, this is off-topic, but one day I decided to install Live Messenger. Installation went fine, then I logged in.. and POOF, almost instantly I got "Security Tool" ( http://www.2-spyware.com/remove-security-tool.html [2-spyware.com] ) on my PC. Needless to say Messenger didn't live long on my PC.

The thing is, if it was a Microsoft-made car even a small thing like adding a speaker could render the car a danger both to its operator and anyone else on the road. Sure, you could tune it up and pimp it like crazy, but sooner or later it'd go on a rampage while you're sleeping..

Re:Backing off inappropriately (2, Informative)

jimicus (737525) | more than 3 years ago | (#34386178)

I would compare it to forcing garages to take unroadworthy cars off the road - regardless of who is at fault, the car is a hazard to other road users.

Many parts of the world already have something like this - the UK has the MOT test, for instance. Annual test for vehicles over 3 years old, if your car fails you can't drive it. (Fairly meaningless test because it just proves your car was OK when it was in the garage. If something then falls off 100 yards down the road, that's the driver's problem.)

Re:Backing off inappropriately (2, Informative)

dakameleon (1126377) | more than 3 years ago | (#34386768)

That's just it - the MOT test is enforced by the Ministry of Transport. If the analogy applied, it would be like requiring you to take your 3 year old computer into a Ministry of Communications approved Geek Squad office for approval to connect to the internet. Fortunately we don't have to pay for an internet licence/registration yet, but now that the idea has come into my head it's only a matter of time...

Re:Backing off inappropriately (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34387268)

Although this could be a hassle, if done correctly this actually sounds like it could potentially be a good idea, if performed remotely and more often than annually... virus infected computers affect everyone else on the internet these days with all the botnets spamming and junk...

Re:Backing off inappropriately (1)

david_thornley (598059) | more than 3 years ago | (#34389470)

One difference is that my car is portable. I could take my laptop into an office, theoretically, but the desktops would be a pain, and would interrupt connectivity. Further, cars tend to work the same, but computers can have seriously different operating systems. Would they be competent to examine my dual-boot Ubuntu/W7 laptop?

What.... (0, Troll)

Alias14 (1657713) | more than 3 years ago | (#34385698)

The Australian Government making a sensible decision? What is this? This isn't why I vote (not that I have a choice).

Re:What.... (2, Funny)

beav007 (746004) | more than 3 years ago | (#34385812)

The response from the general Australian public: "who are you, and what have you done with our politicians?"

Re:What.... (2, Insightful)

Gadget_Guy (627405) | more than 3 years ago | (#34386062)

That is what you get these days with the balance of power being held by the Greens and independents. It used to be that the independents and small parties would come up with the looney ideas, but more and more we are seeing the big parties filling that role. EG. The Internet Filter aka The Great Firewall of Australia.

Re:What.... (1)

dangitman (862676) | more than 3 years ago | (#34386732)

Obviously, there's nothing that can't be blamed on the Greens and Independents. Major party comes up with a stupid idea? It must be the fault of the smaller parties for holding the balance of power!

Re:What.... (1)

Gadget_Guy (627405) | more than 3 years ago | (#34386872)

Obviously, there's nothing that can't be blamed on the Greens and Independents. Major party comes up with a stupid idea? It must be the fault of the smaller parties for holding the balance of power!

Huh? I can't tell if you are being funny or are sarcastically saying that I am blaming the Greens and independents for the faults of the major parties. My contention was that it is the small group of non-mainstream politicians who are keeping the bastards honest.

To extend the metaphor... (1)

brit74 (831798) | more than 3 years ago | (#34385700)

"It would be like forcing car manufacturers to take responsibility for bad drivers," IIA chief Peter Coroneos said. Some 91 ISPs have signed on to the iCode [a kind industry self-regulation] to help users resolve computer infections and quarantine some if needed.

To extend the metaphor to include iCode, then I guess car manufacturers will be working to help bad drivers and quarantine some of them if needed.

Bad analogy (1)

xnpu (963139) | more than 3 years ago | (#34385704)

Better would be to say road operators had to remove reckless drivers. Which is arguable more sensible.

Re:Bad analogy (1)

Dr. Hok (702268) | more than 3 years ago | (#34386104)

Better would be to say road operators had to remove reckless drivers. Which is arguable more sensible.

Yup, like in Austria, where they bury blades in the Autobahn exits that slice tires of cars which enter the wrong way. (These drivers are confused rather than reckless, which fits the virus analogy even better.)

All my pirated files were a virus. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34385716)

Lol 5 insightful double rainbow 95% linux marketshare.

Nice! (1)

lennier1 (264730) | more than 3 years ago | (#34385760)

Now THAT's what I call service. They're even doing the car analogies for us!

another better analogy (4, Funny)

phayes (202222) | more than 3 years ago | (#34385806)

'It would be like forcing car manufacturers to take responsibility for bad drivers.'"

No. It would be like forcing toll road operators to refuse access to cars that are actively spraying oil all over the road surface that have been causing accidents.

Re:another better analogy (2, Funny)

stms (1132653) | more than 3 years ago | (#34385972)

I don't understand can someone use a computer analogy to explain this instead of a car analogy.

Re:another better analogy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34386292)

It would be like forcing toll road operators to refuse access to cars that are actively spraying oil all over the road surface that have been causing accidents.

... without the driver knowing anything about it.

And that is the problem : assuming the driver did his best to keep his verhicle in good shape, should he be punished for malicious alterations to it he cannot see himself and has to, every day, rely on costly mechanics to spot and remove them ?

Or should maybe the people who apply those (most allways malicious) alterations be picked up and be punished ?

And also remember that the people who apply those un-wanted alterations to your car come thru the same toll-booth which operators would be expected to refuse you to pass. Should than those toll-booth operators not also be held, at least partially, responsible for those alterations ? Because they did not spot and stop them ?

Re:another better analogy (1)

vivian (156520) | more than 3 years ago | (#34386756)

If I was driving a car that is spraying oil all over the road, then I would certainly want to be stopped before I ended up having a crash caused by the oil, or before I caused some other driver to crash.

Likewise, if you have a computer that is virus ridden and actively infecting others enough so that an ISP can spot it, it should be locked off from the internet - it saves other computers from getting infected, and also lets the user know he better hurry up and recover what data he can off the thing before it's completely hosed, or he suffers (more) identity theft.

ISP's should not be held legally accountable if they fail to block access to an infected computer, but they should certainly be required to have some system in place to at least tries to notify owners that have infected computers. The ISP is in the best position to see if a user's machine is spewing out traffic on ports that are known to be used by certain security threats, and here in Australia they are already counting the bytes that go past and in most cases shaping your traffic once you hit a limit - perhaps your connection could just be slowed down to a really really slow crawl once you start spewing out traffic that looks like you no longer own your PC.

Re:another better analogy (1)

Anne Honime (828246) | more than 3 years ago | (#34386720)

You should have been modded insightful instead of funny. I had exactly the same reaction.

Like a toll road operator, ISPs would have a security duty, based on visible facts (without actively searching computers, just analysing statistical output traffic patterns). It wouldn't be akin to a penalty, but act like a quarantine for the benefit of the majority.

Re:another better analogy (1)

c (8461) | more than 3 years ago | (#34387260)

>> It would be like forcing car manufacturers to
>> take responsibility for bad drivers.

> No. It would be like forcing toll road operators to
> refuse access to cars that are actively spraying oil
> all over the road surface that have been causing accidents.

No, it would be like forcing Slashdot editors to make sure all Slashdot car analogies, even user posted, make sense.

Re:another better analogy (1)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 3 years ago | (#34389580)

'It would be like forcing car manufacturers to take responsibility for bad drivers.'"

No. It would be like forcing toll road operators to refuse access to cars that are actively spraying oil all over the road surface that have been causing accidents.

Are you saying that if someone is actively spraying oil all over the road surface, and they are coming up on a toll bridge...

The standard policy is for the toll booth operator to do... nothing? Not even like... Call the police or fire department... nor passively detain or interfere?

Not reasonable at all. (1)

theNAM666 (179776) | more than 3 years ago | (#34385820)

More like-- I operate a toll road, now I can ignore the robbers who shoot out tires on that road.

Metaphor (3, Insightful)

LordCrank (74800) | more than 3 years ago | (#34385828)

It would be like forcing an ISP to take responsibility for a copyright infringer.

Re:Metaphor (1)

shentino (1139071) | more than 3 years ago | (#34388210)

Also, if we give ISPs the authority to quarantine infected computers, what's to stop that power from being subverted by the MAFIAA?

I think the opposite is true (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34385836)

In Britian it is necessary to get your car MOT tested every year after it is over three years old. This is to ensure that cars being used on the road aren't a danger to the people driving them or others.
An infected computer is a danger to its users and other people on the internet. It would surely be a good idea to have compulsory 'safety testing' for computers that connect to the internet.

Re:I think the opposite is true (1)

Therilith (1306561) | more than 3 years ago | (#34385994)

Yeah, better make sure you have the latest version of Windows and Norton AntiVirus for your next government mandated checkup or you'll be kicked off the internet.

Re:I think the opposite is true (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34387186)

Yeah, better make sure you have the latest version of Windows and Norton AntiVirus for your next government mandated checkup or you'll be kicked off the internet.

My computer comes under Australian jurisdiction. It doesn't have the latest version of Windows. It doesn't have any version of Windows, as it currently runs Arch Linux, Firefox 4.0b7, LibreOffice and KDE 4.5.3, and it works beautifully. It has never been compromised by any malware (mainly because malware is for Windows). In a similar fashion, it simply won't run Norton AntiVirus, no matter how much the Australian government might huff and puff to try to mandate that it must.

Fortunately, I am highly unlikely to be kicked off the Internet, because my ISP (Internode: http://www.internode.on.net/ ) happens to run Linux also.

Re:I think the opposite is true (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34388440)

Are you who this guy was talking about? http://bash.org/?2098 [bash.org]

A better analogy would be ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34385870)

holding car rental companies responsible for damage done by a car leased to a person whom has been repeatedly caught loaning his rental to people with suspended licenses.

When government sights, a few businesses, and universities were the only ones on the internet, misbehaviour was low because sysadmins knew that if users consistently misbehaved on the internet their site might get cutt off.

If AT&T knew that by leasing services to some spammer might get all the rest of their customers cut off, then AT&T would probably cut the guy off themselves.

Not required, just recommended (2, Insightful)

Todd Knarr (15451) | more than 3 years ago | (#34385882)

The government shouldn't be requiring ISPs to disconnect infected computers, no. But ISPs still should be disconnecting infected computers. Not computers that don't run the ISP's anti-virus package, not computers that aren't up-to-date on Windows, but computers that're actively showing the tell-tale signatures of known infections (including spewing spam e-mail). If a computer shows up infected, the user should be warned. If the infection isn't removed fairly soon after, the computer should be disconnected until the user contacts the ISP about solutions.

Think of it like a medical quarantine. We don't quarantine you just because you haven't had your shots. But once you're diagnosed with the actual infectious diseases, you're quarantined until either you get medical treatment and are cured, you get over the infectious stage on your own or you die.

Re:Not required, just recommended (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34385926)

Didn't understand your medical analogy. A car analogy is not just recommended, it is required.

Re:Not required, just recommended (1)

thegarbz (1787294) | more than 3 years ago | (#34386620)

I agree but within reason. If a computer is found to be infected how long do you allow the zombie on the internet before you cut it off? Remember that once the internet is cut-off so is updates to anti-virus software, the ability to easily download new anti-virus software, and the ability to research your infection. It also brings into question the payment. Can an ISP simply refuse access to a paying customer? Sure, but what if the customer is locked into a 24 month contract?

Our ISPs actually already take a very proactive approach by informing users if they are showing signs of infection based on the network traffic they send out. That caught Confickr traffic in our house. I would never have known that my sister picked it up from her university if it weren't for those emails.

Re:Not required, just recommended (1)

Rhywden (1940872) | more than 3 years ago | (#34387026)

You can exclude the routes to update servers and redirect all http-traffic to a page stating just that. Thus the customer can download antivirus software and get the latest patches, but still isn't allowed to wreak havoc unto the greater internet.

Re:Not required, just recommended (1)

Teun (17872) | more than 3 years ago | (#34386746)

That's what a responsible ISP like xs4all.nl does.

They send you a mail explaining the problem and block most but not all traffic.
You can call their help desk and access a special page with help topics to resolve the problem and in case you need to download patches that's possible through the proxy server.
This approach is helpful to the owner of the infected computer and the internet in general.

Re:Not required, just recommended (1)

dangitman (862676) | more than 3 years ago | (#34386750)

Not computers that don't run the ISP's anti-virus package, not computers that aren't up-to-date on Windows, but computers that're actively showing the tell-tale signatures of known infections

For example, computers that run non-approved Operating Systems such as Linux?

Re:Not required, just recommended (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34387230)

Not computers that don't run the ISP's anti-virus package, not computers that aren't up-to-date on Windows, but computers that're actively showing the tell-tale signatures of known infections

For example, computers that run non-approved Operating Systems such as Linux?

Computers that run "non-approved" Operating Systems such as Linux won't be actively showing the tell-tale signatures of known infections, because almost all malware is for Windows.

Re:Not required, just recommended (1)

dargaud (518470) | more than 3 years ago | (#34387510)

Not computers that don't run the ISP's anti-virus package, not computers that aren't up-to-date on Windows, but computers that're actively showing the tell-tale signatures of known infections

For example, computers that run non-approved Operating Systems such as Linux?

Computers that run "non-approved" Operating Systems such as Linux won't be actively showing the tell-tale signatures of known infections, because almost all malware is for Windows.

And _if_ they have a rootkit running, they should be disconnected, Linux or not.

Re:Not required, just recommended (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34386956)

but computers that're actively showing the tell-tale signatures of known infections (including spewing spam e-mail)

How would ISPs determine that without inspecting your traffic? If I'm sending email, for instance, I do NOT want my ISP to read it, period - not even to see if it might be spam. The same goes for the rest of my traffic.

I mean, if you, as an ISP, cut off infected users, wouldn't the next step be cutting e.g. (black hat) hackers? Somebody who's running SQL injections against websites to break into them surely is just as much of a nuisance as a trojan-infected zombie, for instance. Why not inspect people's web traffic to verify they're not doing this, too? And if you can't justify doing so, how can you justify looking at users emails, or indeed any other traffic?

In fact, while ISPs can probably legally reserve the right to not provide access to you if your computer's infected, I don't think they can just give themselves the right to inspect your traffic by putting it in their terms and conditions. And, as explained above, that is a good thing. Sure, it means we'll have one less way of dealing with spam, but let's face it - as Ben Franklin said, "They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety".

Let's not give up our essential liberty of not having our ISP read our traffic for a little temporary safety from spam.

Agreed, 110%, & I like your "quarantine" analo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34387994)

"But ISPs still should be disconnecting infected computers... Think of it like a medical quarantine" - by Todd Knarr (15451) on Tuesday November 30, @03:04AM (#34385882) Homepage

Per my subject-line - I agree, & that's a great analogy you used: IF my ISP/BSP called me up & said I was showing telltale signs of infestation by "malware-in-general", I'd actually appreciate it (even though it doesn't happen to myself because of this -> http://www.bing.com/search?q=%22HOW+TO+SECURE+Windows+2000%2FXP%22&go=&form=QBRE [bing.com] )... & I'd want to know about it (it'd surprise me though, because of the security guide I wrote, and yes, use).

APK

P.S.=> Not only out of consideration for myself, but also others (if I was spreading it or even sending spam because of such an infestation etc./et al)... apk

Re:Not required, just recommended (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34388648)

I used to work at an ISP and we would disconnect one customer every few months on account of their PC spewing out mountains of spam. There's no reason for the government to be involved in this. When somebody on our network produces spam, that tarnishes our IP range and makes it likely for us to be blocked by other ISPs. So it's in our best interest to quarantine infected computers until they get cleaned out. And it's not like it's without warning. Generally we'd call first and give them a few days. Most of them would be shocked that they'd have a virus and would voluntarily disconnect without us having to force them.

Filtering (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34385900)

Why, then, is it the government's responsibility to force ISPs to block particular web sites from their services?

A telepone analogy would be better (2)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | more than 3 years ago | (#34385914)

Is a telephone provider responsible for drug dealers, pimps and other assorted crooks, who run their business over the providers' telephone lines?

The telephone provider runs a line to your house. What takes place on the other side of the line, inside your house, they have no control over. The same is true for an ISP. They provide an Internet connection to your home. What you hook up to it, is your responsibility . . . and liability.

Re:A telepone analogy would be better (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34385942)

and if your telephone equipment malfunctioned the provider would cut you off

clap clap you just failed.

Re:A telepone analogy would be better (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34386064)

No. What you are thinking of is the phone company cutting you off for trying to use the phone line as a power source, which is intentionally malicious most of the time. That is more comparable to the constant torrent downloaders, and from what I've been hearing, the ISPs have been cutting off their "high bandwidth users" lately.

Re:A telepone analogy would be better (1)

Errol backfiring (1280012) | more than 3 years ago | (#34386704)

Yes, but up to a point. That point is that you want to cooperate. If you really are a crook, you would not. In your analogy, a telephone provider can cut off people who use their phone for sexual harassment, for example. Not that this is not something automatic, but (thank goodness) requires a serious procedure and complaint from the victim before such a thing is done. Also, this is done in cooperation with the police and the culprit has to face the law instead of just an automatic switch off.

Re:A telepone analogy would be better (1)

Haeleth (414428) | more than 3 years ago | (#34388476)

If a drug dealer, pimp, or other assorted crook was breaking into my house and using my telephone to run their business, I would be very pleased if the telephone company told me about it.

It's more like... (2, Insightful)

91degrees (207121) | more than 3 years ago | (#34385944)

...ISPs being required to disconnnect infected computers.

The analogies are pointless. It comes down to factors such as feasability, harm done, harm prevented and responsibility. An ISP is capable of disconnecting the computers from the internet. Forcing them to do so would prevent harm. So it comes to whether the cure is worse than the disease.

The ISPs make the perfectly reasonable point that the goals can be achieved by self regulation, and this will be much more flexible. On the whole the ISPs are should be in favour of removing infected computers. They're an expensive annoyance.

Er (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34385984)

Given this would be a government issued order, isn't it more like making the government responsible for bad drivers? Kind of like even allowing the government to, say, take someone's license if they're considered a danger to other road users?

Yeah, you're right. Ridiculous.

a bit shocked by the reaction of the slashdot crow (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34386054)

How does the governement decide whether a computer is infected or not?
Does running a P2P program counts as "infected"?
I understand that to decide whether a computer is infected or not, one would have to store and analyze the network traffic with DPI.
Do you also want the government to close their eyes when they see which websites you browse, and the content of your emails? (which is usually not encrypted)
Finally, does "infected computers" include computers from political oponents, like in China?

I actually had a few jokes to say about this story but I have to admit now that sometimes people on /. make me sick, not because they are bad inside, more because they don't really see anything wrong with totalitarism.

Re:a bit shocked by the reaction of the slashdot c (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34386350)

Road to hell, good intentions and all that.

Interestingly in cases like this, most only see the "obvious" benefit and stop there. They don't think about how such a system could (and would) be abused or what would be required to implement it (e.g. DPI and other surveillance of your traffic).

Re:a bit shocked by the reaction of the slashdot c (1)

Haeleth (414428) | more than 3 years ago | (#34388630)

How does the governement decide whether a computer is infected or not?

I'm guessing all those nice capitalist non-government-affiliated antivirus companies might just have an idea or two about that.

Does running a P2P program counts as "infected"?

What? Why on earth would it? We're talking about detecting malware, not enforcing copyright law.

I understand that to decide whether a computer is infected or not, one would have to store and analyze the network traffic with DPI.

DPI would not necessarily be required. And even if it was, it does not involve storing traffic, just looking inside it as it goes past.

Do you also want the government to close their eyes when they see which websites you browse, and the content of your emails? (which is usually not encrypted)

Who said anything about the government seeing this? This is about ISPs doing filtering, not the government. And it would be machines doing the inspection, not humans. Most people are happy with machines seeing the contents of their email, given as how it's impossible to send an email without machines seeing its contents.

Finally, does "infected computers" include computers from political oponents, like in China?

Um, what? How the hell did we get from "ISPs monitoring for signs of malware infection" to "Big Brother grinding the faces of political opponents in the dust"?

The "slippery slope" argument is a logical fallacy, Mr Coward.

I have to admit now that sometimes people on /. make me sick, not because they are bad inside, more because they don't really see anything wrong with totalitarism.

Ditto, except replace "don't really see anything wrong with" with "appear to be completely incapable of distinguishing between reasonable government activity and".

Given most of the comments to date.. (0, Offtopic)

ghmh (73679) | more than 3 years ago | (#34386148)

..it looks like we desperately need BadAnalogyGuy [slashdot.org]

Fair Enough (1)

masterwit (1800118) | more than 3 years ago | (#34386210)

Sometimes good news is good.
(I know, profound)

At least I can start drinking Foster's again to pretend to be "outback"!

Also I found a US winning a robot battle against Australia [zdnet.com.au] on the side panel, and robots merit an instant mouse click!

...

On a more enlightened note, I found TFA really shallow and not providing the news in the most ideal way I wanted:

The government accepted response to recommendations that federal, state and territory police forces establish an "e-crime managers group" to improve information-sharing and cross-jurisdiction cooperation, which would fall under the auspices of the Australia and New Zealand Policing Advisory Agency's e-Crime Committee.

So really our collective "uphill battle of common sense" is really just a temporary mitigation to the common sense necessity. (Don't confuse my comment in not being pleased by the article, just I was hoping for a bit more...sometimes the sensationalist Slashdot headlines get to me!?!!)

Wisdom follows, pay attention! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34386236)

Aussie government is stupid, period.

- The right of the state to detain and quarantine the infectous people until completely healed is well-established by the american court case of "Typhoid Mary". She was rotted in prison in order to prevent her from repeatedly taking cook jobs under pseudonyms, where the uncleanable bacilli host woman inginted terrible typhoid diseases, killing over a hundred people.

Computers have no human rights, unlike people, so there is absolutely no reason to refrain from the most draconian state-mandated computer quarantine measures to protect the general PC population!

- Australia has the world's second most stringent set of animal import rules, right behing NZ. Essentially if you immigrate to "down under", you can bring your cat or dog, either stuffed or in a formaldehid jar and that's it! No live veterinarian genetical code allowed to enter the continent, (They didn't even let in horses for the 1956 Olympics, so the pentathlon event was held in Sweden.)

If so, why should Aussie gov't let in foreign unwanted computer code (95% of all malware made in Brazil, communist China and the former USSR) and let it roam free around the Ayers Rock unhindered? Computers and netizens are even more helpless than sheep when it comes to self-defence and the aussie gov't already does wipe animal genome code ruthlessly in order to protect its huge herd of lambs!

- Thirdly and most importantly, public IT security is an utmost matter of national security down under! The communist China is already setting eyes on the sparsely populated and mineral-rich Australia. They want to conquer her just like the japanese wanted to in WWII. Aussies are already on an arms-buying spree now, mostly hi-tech hunter-killer submarines, large warships to prevent assault landings and stealth jetfighters. No money is spared for defence and if you, foreigner, offer to join the aussie military with skill, you can literally immigrate yesterday and get a house for the family now and full citizenship in 3 years!

However, the real-world moves of PRC are always preceded by massive cyber assaults as proven by the recent Wikileaks cable disclosures, so by the aussie gov't refusing to quarantine infected computers, 'rooland is voluntarily giving early beach-heads to chicom cyber troops. Private companies worldwide are easily infiltrated by chicom-controlled venture capital and they will not work honestly to keep customer PCs clean. Herds of trojan botnet zombies will undermine and disable the aussie national and defence communication infrastructure in the most critical moment and when the chicom battalions are already marching onto the shore that's game over for kangoroo-land!

Listen and wizen up before it's too late!

Gentlemen, start your analogies! (4, Funny)

noidentity (188756) | more than 3 years ago | (#34386250)

It would be more like a robot enter your vehicle through its wide-open windows, jacking into the electric system, manufacturing more robots out of the car material, then sending more robots out to enter other cars with open windows.

Good! (1)

polyp2000 (444682) | more than 3 years ago | (#34386306)

Now all someone needs to do is write a virus containing a distributed bit-torrent server that "infects" users machine and there is jack shit they can do the ISP's wont have to be responsible for dealing with it.

So Sue MicroSloth (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34386314)

It's the operating system, stupid.

Looking at it logically... (1)

ADRA (37398) | more than 3 years ago | (#34386422)

1. The Customer's PC is not the property or under control of the ISP
2. The ISP can trivially detect the presence of 'questionable activity' like egress email in the 1000's for a consumer broadband account
3. ISP's can through deep packet inspection (if employed) easily detect the presence of well known computer viruses / exploits both ingress and egress
4. If decided to do so, an ISP can cut off a customer's line or block an IP both automated (based on some pre-defined traffic analysis) or manually due to human inspection

So we've established that assuming that an ISP has a packet inspection system handing customers (not guaranteed) that they can handle dealing with offending PC's if in fact they chose to. The government has said that this is not the responsibility of ISP's to do this, and I fully agree. The responsibility for such an action should not be on a common carrier. The one difference of opinion I have with some is that if I was the government and I wanted to make a better internet for our citizenry, I'd want to knock virus/exploit based customers out of the internet until they've taken the steps necessary to remove the infection and make the PC suitable for healthy internet activity.

In order to accomplish said law, you could:
1. Add government honeypots and detect incoming exploit requests -- If the exploit is detected, then a letter is sent to the ISP requiring take-down until the problem has been cleaned up. Multiple offenses by the same subscriber results in fees? This would put a real financial onus on end users to make sure they're operating their PC's correctly
2. The same as the first idea, but instead of just honeypots, the ISP's can use deep inspection to detect exploits ahead of time. The ISP's aren't required by law to do this, so make a law that they are required to do this, but make the ISP's compensated for doing so so that it isn't directly levied from the customers. The fees charged to the offenders would then help to offset the ongoing costs of the system. Yes, it can be exploited as an copyright enforcement tool or the like, but I'm talking best measures here and assuming that it will only encompass the exploits, etc..

*I'm going to get flamed for this....*

to much aussie inbreed (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34386458)

Aussies are stupid from to much inbred

Should be done anyway! (2, Insightful)

the_raptor (652941) | more than 3 years ago | (#34386642)

Any responsible ISP should be doing this voluntarily anyway. My ISP (Exetel) redirects you to a page telling you that you are infected and telling you how to fix it (and giving links to AV software hosted on their servers). Cars have mandatory yearly inspections or they aren't allowed on the road so Peter Coroneos was just trying to dodge legal liability not talking any kind of sense.

Botnets are a huge organised crime business and any ISP that isn't fighting them is either incompetent or is profiting from botnets (either being paid by the mob or making money selling DDOS protection and the like).

Re:Should be done anyway! (1)

Anomalyx (1731404) | more than 3 years ago | (#34390310)

And how much do they bill you for the AV software? Sounds to me like this would be way too easily abused... or like those popups that some people still get that say "Your computer is infected! Pay $40 for this tool to remove!"

How would they know you're botnetted? Perhaps you just happen to have a traffic pattern similar to a particular botnet because of a server you're hosting... I'd be annoyed if I was getting redirected on every http request. Either that, or they already have your PC compromised with their own software. Any ISP that does either of those is one that I'll avoid.

Two faces of OZ! (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34386662)

The government doesn,t force ISPs to disconect infected computers, but it will MONITOR all the computers, FILTER available content to users, LOG users access, and RESTRICT access, at its own discretion of course! Good to see its not doing anything to stop viruses, and malware and spam. . . . . .

Safety and Emissions Check (5, Insightful)

akedia43 (1950226) | more than 3 years ago | (#34386702)

Actually, if you're going to stick with cars, it's like a safety and emissions check in realtime. If your car is spewing excessive pollution or presents a hazard to other drivers (critical safety features like turn signals, head lights, tire treads, etc., missing or malfunctioning) they don't let you go around being a hazard on public roads. It makes sense for ISPs, in a uniquely capable position to detect it, to disconnect systems that are spewing malware and presenting a hazard to other computers on the network.

Re:Safety and Emissions Check (1)

vettemph (540399) | more than 3 years ago | (#34387318)

I couldn't agree more. I was going to post a similar response.

Better Analogy... (1)

crow_t_robot (528562) | more than 3 years ago | (#34387428)

...still using cars, though.

The state provides us with roads to travel on but also polices those roads and removes people that are hazards to others. The ISP provides roads for our internet traffic and should remove users that are hazards to others (spam, viruses, etc).

Sorry, but if you can't manage your PC then you don't get to play Farmville till you get your shit fixed.

Martin (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34387714)

For once, I don't think this is a outbreak of common sense... I think that an ISP has responsibility for the traffic it brings to the internet and I think it represents its users. If an ISP allows users to connect to the internet who are screwing it up for everyone else, why should the ISP be allowed to do so? As far as analogies go, a project manager who delivers a project which doesn't meet the requirements is ultimately responsible for the team he or she manages... I'm not against holding the ISP responsible for the overall disruption to the internet its users may bring

Another view. (1)

LoyalOpposition (168041) | more than 3 years ago | (#34387978)

It would be like forcing car manufacturers to take responsibility for bad drivers.

No. It would be like forcing gun manufacturers to take responsibility for murderers.

~Loyal

Keep Dreaming (1)

quatin (1589389) | more than 3 years ago | (#34388456)

Only geeks support this, because we've been playing with a computer since birth so it wouldn't be a hassle to keep a computer clean. The rest of the world won't be receptive of a blacklist law.

Punishing the victim has never been popular. See how popular TSA is? Whatever the problem is, you start with the criminal. We are far from exhausting all options against spammers. This is purely a zero-cost (to the law makers) law made to fill a resume for re-election. Off the top of my head I can think of all sorts of punishments more effective at stopping spammers and botters.

Let's start lightly.

1) Removal of constitutional rights.
2) Banned use of government facilities. (roads, post office)
3) RIAA style fines automatically garnished from their bank accounts. (Want to access a computer or get food?)
4) Public Beating
5) Private Beating
6) Private Execution
7) Public Execution
8) Predator strikes on their house

Bad analogy (1)

Bilbo (7015) | more than 3 years ago | (#34388482)

I actually think the car analogy is a poor one. That would imply that car manufacturers, or even the dealers, KNEW about bad drivers, and had a way of disabling their automobiles.

ISP's can tell with a fair degree of certainty that a computer they have connected to the network is spewing either spam, or participating in a known 'botnet. They also have a way to contact the user to tell them that something is happening. Also, having an infected computer isn't usually something the user chooses, and they often have no idea of what is going on. That's not to say that we should be making laws that force ISP's to act regardless of the circumstances. That's more like telling someone they can only use a baseball bat to fix a pair of eyeglasses.

On the other hand, this is COMPLETELY different from "bad people" who are doing things like file sharing or downloading stuff, or even using more than their share of Internet bandwidth. Writing laws to force ISPs to become the puppets of the big media monopolies is BAD, BAD, BAD.

Bullcrap (2)

gurps_npc (621217) | more than 3 years ago | (#34388762)

ISPs are like tollbooths, not car manufactures. An infected computer is like a drunk driver.

This ruling basically says that tollbooth attendants are not required to stop drunk drivers from driving drunk.

While I would say that this is true, barring any specific law, I also see that such a law would be a good idea. Governments could easily pass a law that required tollbooth operators to refuse to let drunk drivers get on their highway. Such a law would not be a bad law. I see few reasonable objections to it.

As such, I would state that while without a law, ISP's should not be legally required to stop infected computers from using them, it should be quite easy for a government to pass such a law, and that law would be:

a. Reasonable and proper

b. A good idea

To put all the analogies together... (1)

Anomalyx (1731404) | more than 3 years ago | (#34390388)

I've picked pieces from all the analogies given and here's what I believe to be the closest one:
It would be like toll booths taking responsibility for crashes that occur on the toll road.
Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?