TalkTalk is set to trial a malware detection system, called Virus Alerts, with some of its customers.

The software, from Huawei, collects the URLs of websites visited by the ISP’s customers. TalkTalk was previously criticised by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) for breaking protocol by not informing the regulator that it was running preliminary trials earlier this year. Customers were also unaware of the trials.  

Moreover, concerns were raised that it was similar to the controversial Phorm trials carried out by BT.

On the TalkTalk blog, Clive Dorsman, managing director of TalkTalk Technology, wrote: “We want to deploy some new free internet security technology to help make the internet safer for our customers. Our plan is to provide an additional level of security at a network level.”

Dorsman said that a “limited” number of customers have agreed to test the system over the next few weeks.

“This system will warn customers who opt into the service about sites they try to access, which we know to be infected with viruses or other malicious software,” he explained.

He added that while the system records all the website URLs that are accessed via the TalkTalk network by its customers, it “does not record who sends the request or other personal data with the URL”.

The ICO said that it had not yet received any complaints about the service, but that it would investigate any that are made.

“We have advised TalkTalk on the safeguards which are necessary to comply with the Data Protection Act and the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations.

“We expect them to make sure they are effective in practice,” a spokesperson for the ICO said.

The trial raised concerns in light of the controversial Webwise system from Phorm, which tracked user’s online behaviour. Despite privacy issues being raised, Webwise was trialled by BT. However, although TalkTalk initially demonstrated interest in Phorm, both companies eventually ditched the system.