The Australian government took an interesting path to battle the increasing problem of zombies on the Internet. Zombie is the term for PC’s which have been infected with software and then being abused by malicious people using them for spam, but also for example for DDoS attacks.
It is Senator Helen Coonan, minister for communications, information technology and the arts that came up with the plan for a 3 month trial. A total of 5 ISP’s have been selected for the trial.
Software has been build that can detect zombie PC’s based on the activity they have engaged in. Anthony Wang, working at the Australian Communications and Media Authority (Acma) which is responsible for the test, explained that the application “identifies IP addresses that have been used for illicit reasons; for example, spamming. There are a range of sensors… that identify them. Those infected IP addresses are then fed to the relevant ISP. They know who their customers are, so can contact them.”
Once a machine has been identified as a zombie, the ISP will contact the consumer and help disinfect the PC. If the consumer is unwilling, it might have the consequence that the connection will be cut from the ISP to prevent further abuse.
It is estimated that 60% of the global spam problem is caused by using zombie PC’s. Consumers generally have no idea their machines are being abused for these purposes. The ISP’s participating in the test explained that generally the consumers are very glad the ISP’s are notifying them of the problem, and accept the help to clean their systems.