Australian ISPs Adopt Industry Security Standard

A new industry standard for Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in Australia lays out how ISPs should respond to zombie computers and attacks on the country's critical infrastructure.

An Australian collective of technology firms has developed an industry code in cooperation with the country's government to help Internet Service Providers improve cyber-security.

The Internet Industry Association's (IIA) newly developed "icode" (PDF) provides a voluntary industry framework for how ISPs can respond to security issues affecting customers and how ISPs can go about dealing with the government in the event of a cyber-emergency.

In the event a computer has been infected and is being used as a zombie, ISPs can temporarily quarantine the customer's service, holding them within a "walled garden with links to relevant resources that will assist them until they are able to restore the security of their machine," the document reads. In the case of a computer being used as a spam source, restrictions can be applied to outbound e-mail.

If an ISP suspects criminal attacks against their infrastructure or customers, the ISP should report the incident to the relevant state or territory police, according to the document. However, if an ISP suspects an attack against national critical infrastructure, the ISP should report the matter to the Australian Federal Police.

"Such incidents might include, but are not limited to, attacks that significantly compromise the integrity of: Australia's financial system; the control systems used by electricity, water and other infrastructure; telecommunications networks or the Internet infrastructure (such as the domain name system)," according to the document.

"The icode promotes a culture of cyber-security within Australian ISPs and their customers," said Peter Coroneos, chief executive of IIA, in a statement. "The increasing threat of zombied computers - computers which have been essentially hijacked - presents a real risk to users. Identity theft, fraud and increases in spam are all possible consequences of compromised computers."