Head of Product Management for Internet Services talks about Internet Guard

“There’s no such thing as completely safe surfing, but this removes a lot of the worry”

Fewer computers with viruses and less stolen personal data – that is the aim of Internet Guard from Swisscom, which has been launched today, acting as a virtual bodyguard for all customers who surf the Internet on the Swisscom network. Alexander Kramer, Head of Product Management for Internet Services, explains how.

Denise Liebchen; 12 June 2018

Alexander Kramer, Swisscom blocks 250,000 attempts to access malicious websites every day, and yet the company is now giving customers who surf the Internet an additional level of protection with Internet Guard. Why are you doing this?

Up to now, we have blocked phishing sites circulating on the Swisscom network. These websites purport to be legitimate and request personal data. If we detect a severe attack, then we warn customers. But the damage has usually been done by then. Sometimes we need to remove customers from the network to protect other users and the network itself. Internet Guard is pre-emptive.

How exactly?

It recognises a greater number of dangerous websites and can block them sooner. To do this, Internet Guard uses a new external source of global black lists, which include malware – or malicious software that infects devices when surfing the Internet.

What criteria are used to blacklist websites and to classify them as dangerous?

A number of criteria are used. Here are a few examples. Is this website actually different to the one it purports to be? For instance, does the web address include ‘swisscomm.ch’ rather than ‘swisscom.ch’? Does the website unlawfully request personal data? Does a website offer to install malicious software?

Doesn’t blocking websites amount to censoring the Internet?

No, because we don’t block our customers permanently from the sites. We warn them if a website is unsafe and has not been removed by the network provider. In so doing, we temporarily interrupt the connection and display a warning page. We don’t evaluate website content. Instead, we base our actions on specific criteria that indicate that a site is dangerous. We therefore protect our customers and the network from being infected by malware and against data theft. It’s not censorship.

No-worry surfing with Internet Guard from Swisscom. It warns you about dangerous websites. Free, automatic protection when customers surf the Internet with Swisscom.

What happens if customers want to access the site despite the warning?

We strongly advise them not to do so, but they can access the site at their own risk. Exceptions to this are websites banned by the law or the state, such as those containing child pornography. Prior to Internet Guard, sites such as those were already being blocked by KOBIK, the Swiss Cybercrime Coordination Unit.

“We comply with all data protection regulations. We do not record personal data relating to sites that are blocked.”

Does Swisscom know which unsafe website I access?

No. We comply with all data protection regulations. We do not record personal data relating to sites that are blocked. However, if a customer uses an infected device with disproportionate frequency to access malicious web addresses, we will inform them of the importance of removing viruses from their device, to ensure that neither they nor other customers suffer damage through our network.

Why is Internet Guard activated free of charge for all customers? Similar products in the industry are subject to a charge.

The product provides basic network-based protection that can be used to protect all customers quickly and easily. This means that we can minimise financial losses, laborious blocking, unblocking and account recovery – and it enables us to keep the network clean. All our customers should be able to benefit from this protection at no cost to themselves, initially on the fixed network but eventually on the mobile network as well.

So, are all customers completely safe in the network?

There’s no such thing as 100 % network security. It’s an endless game between those who want to cause damage and those who want to defend themselves against it. Internet criminals are always coming up with new tricks. However, we can offer our customers the best possible protection. Thanks to Internet Guard, they can surf Swisscom’s network with greater confidence. Our additional Internet Security offer allows them to protect their devices from dangers beyond Swisscom’s network, such as those lurking on public WLANs or in e-mail attachments. However, the best way to stay safe is to keep your eyes open and use your common sense.

How Internet Guard works

Internet Guard is a network-based protection software from Swisscom which will be rolled out over the coming weeks to residential and SME customers with a Swisscom Internet connection. It warns users about malicious websites or blocks websites if they are designed to misuse data or are infected with viruses or other malware. Customers don't need to install anything on their devices to use Internet Guard. Each device is protected as soon as it connects to the Internet using the Swisscom fixed network, as long as the Swisscom domain name server (DNS) is used to establish the connection. A domain name server is a machine that translates a web address into an IP address, which is the language understood by the Internet.

More about Internet Guard

Press release about Internet Guard

Dangers that lurk on the Internet

Cyber criminals are becoming more sophisticated: they are making their fraudulent and phishing websites more convincing, they move ever more quickly around the Internet and are constantly creating dangerous new Internet addresses and subsites to legitimate internet addresses that they have previously hacked. Their aim is to steal access details, passwords and credit card details. “Each month, we block 4,800 hacked customer accounts and filter out 1 billion spam e-mails,” says Lorenz Inglin, Head of Cyber Defence at Swisscom. “This stops the threat from spreading like wild fire through other customer accounts and across our network.”

The initial hours following the emergence of a threat are the most profitable for the criminals. It is therefore important to rapidly detect harmful new websites as early as possible – something that Internet Guard is particularly well-equipped to do: Swisscom uses its own AI methods to quickly detect phishing and fraudulent sites and our blacklist supplier’s lists are then updated immediately.

Find out more


Alexander Kramer heads Product Management for Access and Internet Services at Swisscom. Before joining Swisscom in 2013, he held a number of management roles at various Internet and telecoms providers in Europe and Australia.

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