by Tech Writer, Heptacube Inc.

2010-08-17 15:37:27


The Internet Service Provider will start mailing letters to its customers who are suspected to be part of a botnet.


The initiative appears to be a first in the industry. Virgin has announced that it is starting to send letters to some of its customers, advising them to implement security solutions on their computer. By doing this, the ISP hopes to help clean up its network from infected computers.

Indeed, according to Virgin Media, a quarter of their customers calling for support are infected by malware. The company is partnering with the Shadowserver Foundation for the tracking of IP addresses that appear to be infected by malware. It has made clear that it does not nor intend to spy on its customers to find out about infections, this is why a third party has been mandated for the investigation. "The system tracks viruses, not users, and the information we get is just that an IP address has an infection, whether it's the Zeus bot or something else," said a spokesperson from the company.

The paper letter approach shows the serious of Virgin Media's initiative in this matter. "The letters are on headed paper, so they are obviously from us and they are the first step in the process and we'll be looking at email too," they told PC Pro. From their own confession, they admit that many people discard emails that appear to come from companies as they are often scam or phishing and contain malware.

In the letters, Virgin Media advises its customers on solutions for getting rid of the malware, advertising both free software and their own security software service, available for £6 a month in the UK.

"It’s in our interest to protect our network," said Virgin Media. After all, 25% of support calls is non negligible. They could probably save money if the customers got rid more easily of the malware, and by themselves. If the strategy is succesful, hopefully other ISP's will try similar approaches to helping their customers.