Will Belgium Build a new Botnet?

(Credits: electricpig.co.uk)
(Credits: electricpig.co.uk)

The title is a bit catchy but you will quickly understand why. Today started a new commercial offer promoted by the Belgian authorities: Start2surf@home. To help to reduce the technology gap between the Belgian citizens, a package is now available at a very attractive price: a laptop, a pack of softwares, one year of free Internet access and four hours of training.

Things are clear: compared to other European countries, in Belgium, lot of homes are still “off-line”. Another fact is that the new social media increases even more the gap between connected and off-line people. Good example are the offers for financial products. Belgian banks propose 100% on-line accounts with better rates than classical ones.

One of the main reasons of this gap is the price asked by ISPs to be connected to the Internet. Belgium has a duo-pole maintained by Belgacom and Telenet. The market is closed, offers are too expensive and look coming from the prehistory compared to countries like France. But this issues is not the main topic of my post. On a pure social point of view, trying to reduce the technology gap is an absolute priority but what about the security consequences?

The Belgian authorities expect 100.000 new people to be connected on the Internet. A classic family being based on four people (parents and two children), we can expect 25.000 new computer being deployed in the wild. Those computers will certainly run a Windows operating system and will be used by unexperienced people. In the package, four hours of training are included. I assume that the covered topics will be: basic Windows usage, how to surf the web, how to send/receive e-mails. And what about security?

Let me clarify my feeling. I’m definitively not against new comers on the Internet! Certainly not. Internet became a real media like radio or television. But the major difference with the other classic media is the interactivity. While surfing the Internet, information are exchanged in both directions. I’m a bit scary about the effective amount of time dedicated to on-line security during those four hours of training. Risks are high to see the new computers compromised by malwares. To organize a security awareness campaign in parallel to this commercial offer might be a good initiative. I hope you better understand my title now.

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