Do you ever wish that your Internet Service Provider (ISP) would contact you if they detect that your system is infected with malicious software? Well, now that may be a reality one day if you are a Comcast customer.
Comcast, the largest residential ISP in the nation, has begun to roll-out and test a new initiative, part of their Constant Guard service, to contact persons whose computer appears to be infected with malware or malicious software. The new plan would alert computer users through a service note or semi-transparent banner overlaying part of a current displayed webpage in the web browser application. This in essence would be an early warning indication followed up by a solution to rid the infected system from the malware. More than likely the "solution: would be to utilize an antivirus or security suite such as McAfee, which Comcast already offers to many of their customers free of charge. Some experts think that this "alert" would be considered as another annoying popup that a large amount of computer users would not trust as coming from a legitimate source.
One of the many questions you may be asking is; How does Comcast know whose computer is infected with a Bot? The answer to this lies in Comcast's long history and reputation of information from groups like Spamhaus.org, which tracks the IP addresses of computers transferring malicious data or even spam messages over the Internet. Comcast would basically judge this information from the traffic of a user's IP address but not from individual computers. This means if you have a home network connected to the same cable modem via a Comcast ISP plan and one of the computers is infected with a bot, then all computers on that network would receive the same alert.
As a way for Comcast to prove they are "Comcastic" and serious about Internet Security, they have a newly posted article that lets consumers read about the components of the Constant Guard initiative which will include PC infection browser notifications. You can view it in its entirety on Comcast's Blog.
In the past year, Comcast has alerted customers through the phone for those who had a bot-infected system. Botnets, or groups of infected and compromised systems, has been a serious epidemic in the security world and it continues to be a challenge for security vendors to come up with a solution to them. The botnet creators or hackers continue to develop more complex and advanced infections that can go undetected for long periods of time allowing the bots to cause much more damage than ever before. Having ISP's such as Comcast in the mix of proactively alerting customers that may have a bot-infected system could drastically reduce the spread of such parasites. Although, this could be opening a new can of worms when it comes to customer service calls from Comcast customers that find this somewhat obtrusive or scary that an ISP is essentially "monitoring" their online activity.
What do you think, should Comcast roll-out a proactive initiative to contact computer users who's system is infected with a botnet or virus through a web browser alert message? Would you be open to this new process?