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UK Launches National Virus Alert Service To Help Surfers Stay Safe Online
"ITsafe" Scheme for Home Users and Small Businesses

British Internet users can help protect themselves from viruses and hackers by using a free alerting service launched by the UK Government.

Over half of all UK households own a home computer. Almost 13 million of these have access to the Internet. In September 2004, over 100,000 malicious programs were in circulation. Some fear that this figure could hit 150,000 by this Autumn.

"ITsafe" as the service is called will provide home users and small firms with simple advice to shield PCs, mobile phones and electronic devices from malicious attacks. The service is available by e-mail or through text message alerts sent to mobile phones.

Clear, step-by-step warnings will tell people what the problem is, how it affects them and what they can do to avoid trouble. People signing up will still need to use anti-virus software, firewalls, and software updates to stay secure.

The ITsafe scheme is aimed at home users and small businesses. The Government estimates it will issue security alerts about six to 10 times a year, based on previous experience of virus outbreaks.

UK Home Office Minister Hazel Blears said:

"There is a clear need for easy-to-understand and simple independent advice for non-technically minded people who use computers either at home or at work. The purpose of this new government service is to ensure computer users are aware of the risks involved and how to deal with them easily and effectively without causing alarm."

The ITsafe service will be provided by a team of specialists based at the UK's National Infrastructure Security Coordination Centre (NISCC). They will examine the hundreds of alerts issued by computer security firms and identify those which pose the greatest threat to general users.

About Security News Desk
SYS-CON's Security News desk trawls the world of security for news of software, hardware, products, and services that seems likely to be of interest to infosec professionals and summarizes them for easy assimilation by busy IT managers and staff.

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Reader Feedback: Page 1 of 1

This is stupid, Virus updates are given by Sysmantec, and McAfee already. As for Security exploits, the orginal vendor (EG Microsoft, Redhat, etc) should be responsible for their own product's security.

And to be quite frank, a linux user like me, wouldn't even need the ITSafe updates as i'm already less prone to infection from a virus. Linux on the whole has a generally faster releasing scheme, and Bugs and exploits are pretty much always fixed immediately, so my exploits are found quicker (by its wide community), and fixed immediately.

Virtually all of the current problems with viruses, junk mail and key loggers arise because Microsoft has written faulty code which allows hackers to exploit countless vulnerabilities.

Why is the Tax-payer having to pay for a tech support operation to deal primarily with issues arising from the mistakes of one private company ?

The E.U. should levy a computer insecurity tax. Any company selling software should be fined proportionally to how bad the vulnerabilities are and how many users are affected.

If the Government really wanted to help computer users, they would set up a Software Standards Agency; employing real, live experts whose job would be to read through and analyse the source code of popular software, and report to the public on how safe or dangerous the software would be likely to be. {Of course, some of us have already been doing that for ourselves, for years. But we haven't the clout to give Microsoft the ultimatum -- show us the source code to Windows and Office, or we'll ban them.}

This is just a misguided attempt that will end up doing more harm than good in the long run. But it's cheaper than doing it properly. It's also a pre-emptive strike against the conservative party {"Tories shut safe computing site, expose millions to virus danger" anyone?}

Since a few years the Belgian regulatory body for postal services and telecommunication (BIPT), has a special unit that tracks and warns for (possible) virus attacks.

Sometimes you get a warning of the BIPT in the radio news or during the traffic information announcements.

http://www.bipt.be/bipt_E.htm

I do not know how they work or how they are structured, and if it helps at all, but the UK is not the first country to do this

This does not make sense. Almost all anti-virus vendors offer this same alert. All you have to do is go to their website and signup. I know because I get 3-5 of them a day in my inbox. Why the government would want to waste taxpayer dollars on this is beyond me. Of course, I have no reason to talk because I don't live in the UK.
But when going on the US's past programs like this, any time you get the government involved, things tend to get out of hand.

I just don't understand the need especially when symantec will do this for free.

We all know what's next. When will we expect the first Trojan masquerading as an update from the "IT Safe" service.

here's the NISCC homepage: http://www.niscc.gov.uk/niscc/index-en.html if anyone is interested




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