Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Risk

10/7/2010
12:22 PM
Jim Rapoza
Jim Rapoza
Commentary
Connect Directly
Twitter
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Microsoft's PC Quarantine Plan

A plan by Microsoft Security Chief Scott Charney would place infected or unsecured PCs in an Internet isolation ward. And block users from Internet access.

A plan by Microsoft Security Chief Scott Charney would place infected or unsecured PCs in an Internet isolation ward. And block users from Internet access.How might this work? Let's try this potential scenario.

Hello this is your ISP. We regret to inform you that your system has been quarantined and will not be allowed to access the Internet. We have detected that your system may be infected with malware and that you are not running the approved and certified security software to protect your system. Please remove the malware and update your security software (how you can do this without an Internet connection is your problem). Sorry about any important emails, business opportunities, emergency notices and VOIP-based phone calls that you are now missing. Have a nice day.

Could you imagine getting a message like this from your ISP? Well, if Charney's plan goes into effect, your computers could be subject to quarantines and being locked out from Internet access.

At a speech this week, Charney outlined an idea that he called global collective defense.

In this world, computer security problems are treated in the same way that medical professionals treat people with dangerous infectious diseases, namely removing them from contact with other people. Under this idea, if a computer attempts to connect to the Internet and is found to be infected or maybe even just insecure, the ISP should isolate the system until it can be cleaned and locked down.

Now, I have to admit that there's a part of me that actually agrees with a large part of the sentiment here. I once argued that ISPs should have the right to use "good worms" to close the known security holes in user systems. (an idea which I admit is a little crazy)

But in reality there is so much about Charney's concept that is unworkable that I can't in good conscience agree with the plan for PC quarantines.

First off, locking people off the Internet can be a recipe for disaster. What if the person uses VOIP for their home phone and needs to call for assistance? Never mind all of the other scenarios which, while not life threatening, could be fatal to business or employment well-being if a person is locked off of the Internet.

Then there's the whole idea of what warrants a secure system. One could easily imagine a world where certain large commercial security packages are approved while open source and other security solutions are not.

And then there's the whole issue of how non-Windows systems would be treated. I could easily see users who have Linux-based systems running into problems with having systems that their ISP considers to be "certified" secure.

Still, there are some ideas in here that are at least worth discussing. For example, if an ISP can detect that a system has malware and can notify the user, that is a step in the right direction. I could possibly even be in favor of some kind of "safe mode" Internet connection where a person doesn't lose access but is routed into a connection that limits the harm that can be done.

Yes, careless users who can't or won't secure their systems are the main cause of most of our security woes on the Internet. And more definitely needs to be done in areas of education, awareness and notification.

But shutting people off the internet based on some form of automated "safe system" scan is an idea that needs to be quarantined itself.

 

Recommended Reading:

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
COVID-19: Latest Security News & Commentary
Dark Reading Staff 7/14/2020
Omdia Research Launches Page on Dark Reading
Tim Wilson, Editor in Chief, Dark Reading 7/9/2020
Why Cybersecurity's Silence Matters to Black Lives
Tiffany Ricks, CEO, HacWare,  7/8/2020
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon
Current Issue
Special Report: Computing's New Normal, a Dark Reading Perspective
This special report examines how IT security organizations have adapted to the "new normal" of computing and what the long-term effects will be. Read it and get a unique set of perspectives on issues ranging from new threats & vulnerabilities as a result of remote working to how enterprise security strategy will be affected long term.
Flash Poll
The Threat from the Internetand What Your Organization Can Do About It
The Threat from the Internetand What Your Organization Can Do About It
This report describes some of the latest attacks and threats emanating from the Internet, as well as advice and tips on how your organization can mitigate those threats before they affect your business. Download it today!
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2020-14499
PUBLISHED: 2020-07-15
Advantech iView, versions 5.6 and prior, has an improper access control vulnerability. Successful exploitation of this vulnerability may allow an attacker to obtain all user accounts credentials.
CVE-2020-14501
PUBLISHED: 2020-07-15
Advantech iView, versions 5.6 and prior, has an improper authentication for critical function (CWE-306) issue. Successful exploitation of this vulnerability may allow an attacker to obtain the information of the user table, including the administrator credentials in plain text. An attacker may also ...
CVE-2020-14503
PUBLISHED: 2020-07-15
Advantech iView, versions 5.6 and prior, has an improper input validation vulnerability. Successful exploitation of this vulnerability could allow an attacker to remotely execute arbitrary code.
CVE-2020-14497
PUBLISHED: 2020-07-15
Advantech iView, versions 5.6 and prior, contains multiple SQL injection vulnerabilities that are vulnerable to the use of an attacker-controlled string in the construction of SQL queries. An attacker could extract user credentials, read or modify information, and remotely execute code.
CVE-2020-14505
PUBLISHED: 2020-07-15
Advantech iView, versions 5.6 and prior, has an improper neutralization of special elements used in a command (“command injection�) vulnerability. Successful exploitation of this vulnerability may allow an attacker to send a HTTP GET or POST request that create...