IIA plays down zombie disconnection plan


news The Internet Industry Association has played down the idea that a new internet service provider code being developed could see users disconnected from the internet if their computers are part of a zombie botnet.

IIA CEO Peter Coroneos confirmed this week that the group — which represents ISPs as well as other industry players like Microsoft — was developing a new code of practice on how ISPs should deal with consumers whose PCs had been hijacked for the purposes of spamming or attacking others or identity theft.

But, he said, it would be up to ISPs to determine what steps they wanted to take with customers. “We’re not promoting the idea of disconnecting people from the internet,” he said, responding to an article on the subject published in the Australian newspaper this week saying zombie-infected PCs could be expelled from the internet.

Coroneos said the Federal Government had approached the IIA in 2009 and asked it whether the group would be prepared to help the industry self-regulate. The proposed industry code is now in the final stages of completion and is expected to be delivered by the end of the first quarter of 2010.

“We’re not promoting the idea of disconnecting people from the internet” — IIA chief Peter Coroneos

The IIA conducted a public consultation process on the issue last year, receiving feedback from ISPs, security vendors and individuals.

The aim, according to Coroneos, was broadly to codify best practice that was broadly already being used by ISPs representing 95 per cent of Australia’s internet users, although some ISPs were “not necessarily as proactive as others”. There would be a phase-in period for the code to take effect.

Among strategies the code is to propose is the idea that ISPs could slow users’ speeds, change their passwords so they would need to call the ISP’s help desk, or in the extreme cases where users refused to engage on the issue, terminate their access.

Coroneos said some some ISPs were investing more than others in the issue — even the extent of organising home mediation visits to clean users’ PCs. “It’s to nobody’s advantage having a zombie PC on their network,” he said.