The virus and the ISP

A company I part-time for was struck by a nasty computer virus. Our ISP quickly closed us off, as the virus tried to spread itself by sending out infected e-mails, amongst others to the other customers of the ISP.

This happened three times in a row. Three times in a row we thought we had cleaned our PCs, and three times in a row we caused a virus outbreak.

The odd thing is that although our ISP was quick to point out that we had made a boo-boo, and how we should behave to remedy this, they seemed extremely reluctant to tell us anything about the virus. They did not tell us what it was called, how it spread, under which operating systems it ran, and at what times it was active.

All this kind of information would have been extremely useful in eliminating a large number of our computers from the hunt for the virus. Not that that would have excused us of practicising safe computing with these machines, but it would have helped us curtail the threat at hand that bit quicker. We would have been able to concentrate on the two or three most likely candidates.

If I were a cynic, I would assume that the provider did not provide us with the needed information, because we would then have been able to say: “Ah, Win32/Boom.x! Yes we removed that one.” without actually having done such a thing. In other words, the ISP could assume malice in some customers, and let all customers (you know, people who hand over dinero) pay for the actions of a few.

But in reality, a provider would do better to stem virus outbreaks by giving the unfortunate victim the information he needs to fight the virus.

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