Should Malware-Infected PCs Be Banished?

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SAN FRANCISCO -- Microsoft kicked off the RSA Conference 2010 with a bang. It raised the question of whether malware-infected PCs need to get the Typhoid Mary treatment and be thrown off the Internet.

Scott Charney, corporate vice president of Trustworthy Computing at Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT), dropped the suggestion during his keynote address to open the show. Charney discussed Microsoft's recent takedown of a botnet, called Operation b49, which used the legal system to take down a large botnet called Waledac.

In the court ruling, a federal judge ordered nearly 300 domains allegedly involved in operating Waledac be disabled at Microsoft's request, effectively banishing them from the Internet.

He turned to the audience and asked if such a thing should happen on an individual basis. Should a PC that is not protected by anti-malware software and infected with a bot used to spam the online community be kicked off the Net?

"The EPA comes out with second-hand smoke and suddenly smoking is banned everywhere ... You don't have the right to infect your neighbor. Computers are the same way," he told the audience.

While ISPs do make efforts to keep their pipes clean by giving away security software -- cable giant Comcast (NASDAQ: CMCSA) gives away Norton 360 to all of its subscribers, for example -- Charney proposed having governments pay for such measures with taxes and fees.

Identity protection

In less controversial news, Charney announced the release of new identity management software that Microsoft is testing in Germany as part of a national ID card that nation is rolling out.

Previewed last April, Forefront Identity Manager 2010 is a part of Microsoft's Business Ready Security strategy to enable policy-based identity management.

The first major deployment of Forefront Identity Manager will be Germany's Federal Ministry of the Interior, which is developing the secure electronic identity cards (eID) the nation plans to begin distributing in November.

Microsoft has been working with the Fraunhofer Institute for Open Communication Systems in Berlin to provide Germans with a single identity card that can be used as everything from a driver's license to university registration or voter IDs.

All back-end systems will be cloud-based, providing one point of access to get information on an individual. However, German citizens will be able to protect their privacy from prying eyes by controlling who can access what kind of information.

RSA Conference 2010 runs through Friday.

Andy Patrizio is a senior editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals.