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October 6, 2010

Microsoft researcher says sick PCs should be quarantined

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by Janet Harris

Taking public health protocols as an example of good practice, a Microsoft researcher has suggested that computers infected with viruses and other malware should be quarantined to stop the infection spreading any further.

Microsoft’s Scott Charney said “Just as when an individual who is not vaccinated puts others’ health at risk, computers that are not protected or have been compromised with a bot put others at risk and pose a greater threat to society.”

Charney called for infected machines to effectively be banned from the Internet in order to tackle botnets, networks of hundreds or even thousands of infected computers that are controlled by criminals and used to attack websites.

He also suggested that computers should be certified as healthy before being allowed to connect to the Internet.

The idea was put forward at the International Security Solutions Europe Conference in Germany.

One of the best known botnets is Zeus which can steal banking details and initiate illegal money transfers.

Just this week arrests have been made of people suspected of using the Zeus Trojan to steal banking credentials.

However, the fact that most malware works by exploiting vulnerabilities in software has caused security experts to call for software firms to be more accountable for cybercrime, rather than putting the emphasis on the individual.

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