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Internet Security Plan Under Review Would Alert Users to Hacker Takeover

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An Australian program allowing Internet service providers (ISPs) to alert customers if their computers are commandeered by hackers and restrict online access if they do not correct the problem is being considered by the U.S. government. Certain sections of the plan have kindled the interest of experts and U.S. officials, but any government attempt to monitor or regulate the Internet could spark public opposition.

White House cybercoordinator Howard Schmidt says the United States is studying a number of voluntary ways to help small businesses and the public better shield themselves online, and possibilities include provisions in the Australian effort that enable customers to receive alerts from their ISPs if their computer is hijacked by hackers via a botnet. However, officials are not advocating an option in the program that permits ISPs to block or limit Internet access by customers who fail to fix their infected computers, arguing that this would be technically problematic and face heavy resistance.

Center for Strategic and International Studies fellow James Lewis says that ISPs playing a part in defending online customers from cyberattack is an inevitability, but Harris Corp.'s Dale Meyerrose cautions that voluntary programs will be insufficient. "We need to have things that have more teeth in them, like standards," Meyerrose says.

From The Associated Press
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