WASHINGTON (AP) — For computer users, a few mouse clicks could mean the difference between staying online and losing Internet connections this summer.
Unknown to most of them, their problem began when international hackers ran an online advertising scam to take control of infected computers around the world. In a highly unusual response, the FBI set up a safety net months ago using government computers to prevent Internet disruptions for those infected users. But that system is to be shut down.
The FBI is encouraging users to visit a website run by its security partner, http://www.dcwg.org , that will inform them whether they’re infected and explain how to fix the problem. After July 9, infected users won’t be able to connect to the Internet.
Most victims don’t even know their computers have been infected, although the malicious software probably has slowed their web surfing and disabled their antivirus software, making their machines more vulnerable to other problems.
Last November, the FBI and other authorities were preparing to take down a hacker ring that had been running an Internet ad scam on a massive network of infected computers.MORE
Internet security is a hot political topic at the moment. Governments are instrumenting changes to protect key infrastructure from both foreign and domestic network attacks.
During the UK Prime Minister’s visit to the US last week, both David Cameron and Barack Obama pledged a closer partnership on internet security issues. A joint fact sheet, released on March 14 last week, states:
As the United States and the United Kingdom continue developing joint capabilities that support our national security interests in cyberspace, we are sharing more and more incident data to help us and our allies counter advanced persistent threats.
Against the backdrop of wider internet security discussions, concerns about cyberwarfare often arise. However, thanks to liberal use of the term, and a big dollop of hype, it is very difficult to work out what cyberwar actually encompasses.more