Learning from the Dutch - ISPs to co-operate against botnets

While we go round in circles the main Dutch ISPs have decided to join forces in tackling botnets. The Dutch have a long tradition of sticking fingers in dykes – and most of the time their solutions  work. Instead of being under water they are at the heart of some of the world’s highest added value industries with some of the best broadband access – so read on …. 

 I quote the press release verbatim: 


14 August 2009 – Fourteen Dutch ISPs have signed a covenant to collaborate in tackling botnets. Botnets are a major problem, since hackers can use the networks of millions of virus- or Trojan contaminated computers to send out spam messages or carry out cyberattacks without the PC owner’s knowledge. The ISPs are collectively going to act against these botnets and will be temporarily cutting off contaminated computers from the internet in order to prevent the botnet from spreading and subsequently eliminate it, after which the computers can be connected again.


A great number of internet providers have already taken measures against affected computers that are connected to their network. To improve these measures the Dutch ISPs are going to exchange knowledge and information on bot networks. This way contaminations will be detected sooner and spreading will be prevented immediately.



Botnets have become a major dilemma. Last year, internet expert Vint Cerf, one of the founders of the current internet, estimated that a quarter of all computers over the world have been infected. Spam experts calculated that approximately 90% of all spam messages are sent through botnets.


Botnet-infected computers can be operated by hackers from a remote terminal without the PC owner’s knowledge, allowing the contaminated computer to be used for spam, cyberattacks or aquiring and forwarding illegal data.


Alice, Concepts ICT, Het Net, InterNLnet, KPN , Luna NL, Online, Solcon, Tele2, telfort, UPC Xenosite, XS4ALL and Ziggo are adjusting their businesses and processes in order to allow their collaboration to fully commence on 1 January 2010. Other providers have been invited to join their initiative.


Comments of collaborating parties:


“It is important that ISPs collectively battle this problem and protect their customers as well as prevent nuisance to the rest of the internet. A safe internet is pivotal but not natural, says Albert Vergeer, Director Internet for KPN, XS4ALL and Telfort.


Chris Fonteijn, chairman of OPTA: “Consumers are not even aware of their computer being a host to a bot network, let alone that they know how to undo it. That is why I am pleased to learn that ISPs will help consumers with cleaning up their computers so we can all work together on a safer internet.”


“A botnet will never affect a single ISP’s network. That is why a joint approach is indispensable”, says Arent van der Feltz, Vice President of Corporate Development and of Legal, Regulatory and Public Affairs of Ziggo.


“The internet has become indispensable and of great social importance to many people. This agreement allows us to make an important step towards creating a safer digital world for our combined customers”, says Yvonne Schers, Vice President Public Affairs and General Counsel of UPC.


“The internet is like tap water. It has become one of the first necessities of life, which our customers should enjoy without worries. Safe internet is one of our top issues and we genuinely value and support this initiative”, says Bart Heinink, Director Regulatory and Access Strategy of Online.


“A safe internet is of great importance to everyone. Tele2 protects its customers actively against spam and viruses”, says Esther Haaksman-Bakker, Director Legal, Purchase and Process Management of Tele2. “This covenant to combine forces in tackling botnets fits in our mission to work on a safer internet”.




Is this an approach whose time has come?