Free laptop plans could produce ‘future botnets’


Recently announced Government schemes to get more people online could become a breeding ground for botnets if it doesn't ensure security is taken care of.

This was the view of Mark Osborne, chief information and security officer of Interoute, who believes more needs to be done by Government to keep broadband infrastructure and computers free from attacks.

During a keynote speed at the eCrime Congress held in London today, Osborne said: "I think when we start talking about a free PC in every home or free broadband in every home, we should think about what we are saying."

"Unless that has got antivirus, unless that is clean broadband, that is just going to be a platform for future botnets."

He praised the work of other Governments, such Germany, whose Federal Office for Information Security set up a free helpdesk to clean PCs and provide antivirus software for its citizens.

"Once we get a level playing field I think it is time for the regulators and the Government to help providers provide clean backbones," Osborne added.

"That means stripping out phishing attacks, stripping out some malware, it has been done by some providers, it is not that hard to do."

"A simple way of doing that would be to provide funding for something like a ratified spam house drop list that would automatically allow us to just drop any infected domains or IP addresses."

He also suggested that regulators could go even further by providing an open source solution to go onto provider's backbones and keep networks clean.

"It is not beyond the technology available today," he concluded. "It is doable."

However, he admitted everyone would need to get on-board with the plan as if any independent providers were left out, they could form a platform for the next attack.

Jennifer Scott

Jennifer Scott is a former freelance journalist and currently political reporter for Sky News. She has a varied writing history, having started her career at Dennis Publishing, working in various roles across its business technology titles, including ITPro. Jennifer has specialised in a number of areas over the years and has produced a wealth of content for ITPro, focusing largely on data storage, networking, cloud computing, and telecommunications.

Most recently Jennifer has turned her skills to the political sphere and broadcast journalism, where she has worked for the BBC as a political reporter, before moving to Sky News.