ISPs fingered for spreading Anna K virus

Fingers are being pointed at ISPs in the wake of the latest virus scourge to sweep the world.

Fingers are being pointed at ISPs in the wake of the latest virus scourge to sweep the world.

While last week's Anna Kournikova virus failed to cause much damage to PC users, it has provoked criticism of ISPs by two security companies.

Anti-virus software firm Trend Micro says virus blocking should happen at the ISP and leaving it to end-users to filter them is like letting them play Russian roulette.

“It’s like having a water filter on your system," says Sydney-based Trend Micro spokesman Joel Montgomery. Montgomery will be in New Zealand this week trying to persuade ISPs to apply his company's software to email gateways.

"Filtering at the tap is one thing, but we want to see the filters built into the dam itself,” says Montgomery.

Auckland security specialist Arjen de Landgraaf, whose company, Co-Logic, provides an online security alert service, is critical of the response of the country's biggest ISP, Xtra, to the latest virus outbreak.

He claims Xtra, and other ISPs, could be doing more to protect subscribers from viruses.

“We alerted our subscribers at 9am [on Tuesday morning], before anyone else,” claims de Landgraaf.

“Xtra didn’t post a warning on its site until around 11 [that morning]. That’s far too late.”

But Xtra spokeswoman Mary Parker rejects de Landgraaf’s claim, saying Xtra knew about the virus before 8am and put filters in place immediately.

“We put filters up first, then we check the virus to make sure it is a real problem, and then put a notice on our security and virus page.” Parker says Xtra doesn’t email its subscribers when it receives a warning about a virus because the ISP receives so many warnings “it would mean we were in effect spamming our customers”.

Montgomery says when viruses can be launched automatically by the preview function of some email packages, it's vital they be blocked at the ISP.

He also points to other potential security concerns from applications like Napster and instant messaging systems.

"We see these apps as similar to Java and ActiveX controls where a hacker could gain control of your PC and wreak havoc."

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