U.S. Studying Australian Internet Security Plan: Report

U.S. officials are reviewing a number of plans to help improve Internet security, including a plan by Australian authorities to limit Internet access for infected computers.

The U.S. government is reviewing plans by Australia to allow Internet service providers to keep compromised computers off the Internet and alert customers if their computers are hijacked by attackers, according to media reports.

White House Cybersecurity Coordinator Howard Schmidt reportedly told the Associated Press that the United States is studying a number of ways to help both businesses and the public protect themselves online. According to the AP, that includes the Australian plan, though U.S. officials are hesitant to advocate the part of the plan that allows ISPs to quarantine users who do not clean their infected machines.

"Without security you have no privacy," Schmidt was quoted as saying. "And many of us that care deeply about our privacy look to make sure our systems are secure."

ISPs can help "make sure our systems are cleaned up if they're infected and keep them clean," he added.

The Australian strategy is similar to other security proposals, including the PC "Health Certificate" idea Microsoft's Corporate Vice President of Trustworthy Computing Scott Charney put forward last week.

"Blocking Internet access to botnet-infected hosts is certainly a worthy goal, but the issue is more complex than simply blocking versus letting them run amok," said Adam Wosotowsky, principal engineer at McAfee Labs. "You have to consider the steps to resolution post-blocking. ... If you block them, then how will they get something to help them clean it up? What do you give them? Does every block become a customer calling their ISP to complain that their Internet is broken? Did you give them any warning? What about the perspective that they used the ISP's network to resolve and download and install the virus in the first place?"

The Australian plan is slated to go into effect in December, AP reported.