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Fight computer viruses like epidemics: Microsoft

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Microsoft on Tuesday advocated fighting  pernicious computer viruses with public health tactics used to stop the spread  of SRAS, H1N1 and other dangerous real world bugs.    Computers could be granted health certificates to be used online to show  they were checked for viruses, Microsoft vice president of Trustworthy  Computing Scott Charney said at a RSA computer security gathering here.

“There are a lot of parallels to the health model,” Charney said.    “In public health we give people advice like wash your hands to stay safe  or get vaccinations,” he continued. “We can do that in the Internet world as  well, and if your computer is sick we give you treatment.”    Computer versions of public health notices could include the importance of  running updated anti-virus software or warnings about the latest malicious  software spreading online.    Charney told of “proof of concept” online identification software that  could play a pivotal role in an online public health model by verifying that  people on the Internet are who they claim to be.

People wouldn’t be compelled to use computer health certificates, but  businesses could require them for certain services.    “Instead of just reacting to tainted machines, we can look out for machine  health,” Charney said.    “It’s not about quarantining machines,” he continued. “It’s about  remediation.”    Charney caused a buzz last year at RSA with a suggestion that computers  infected with malicious software be quarantined on the Internet.    “We could flip it around to use the identity model,” Charney said. “Where  consumers would be asked for health certificates (for computers) and not  providing one might have some consequences.”

People who didn’t present health claims could encounter precautions such as  caps on money accessed in online bank accounts or limited Internet data flow.

San Francisco, Feb 15, 2011 (AFP)