The Internet’s Immune System

The best approach to computer security is to view it as an issue of public health and economics, in which people can protect themselves but must pay for the costs they impose on others. From this perspective, the Internet service providers, because they are the entities best equipped to do so.

NEW YORK – Viruses, phishing, spyware, spam, denial-of-service attacks, botnets… You have probably heard these words, and perhaps even suffered from what they signify, with or without knowing it.

I’d like to lay out a simple path to addressing (not resolving) these security problems, one that does not require agreement among all governments (or people) on what really constitutes a crime, much less a global police force or unenforceable global treaties. If we can increase security in general, then governments can focus on the real criminals. 

A better approach is to view computer security as an issue of public health and economics, in which people can protect themselves but must pay for the costs they impose on others. We need to enable people to defend themselves against others; prevent innocent, well-meaning people from becoming infected and harming others; and reduce the incentives and ability of the ill-intentioned to do harm.

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