Families and firms urged to 'Get Safe Online'

New initiative will launch next week...

New initiative will launch next week...

The UK government is to launch an initiative next week urging all computer users to better understand the threats that lurk online and the measures they can take to protect themselves.

Speaking to silicon.com, Dr Steve Marsh from the Cabinet Office's Central Sponsor for Information Assurance, said 'Get Safe Online' is "a major initiative" and necessary in order to restore confidence among existing computer users but also to attract those who currently avoid the internet out of fear.

Marsh told silicon.com: "We want to get the message across that users can go online safely if they take certain precautions."

Formerly known under the working title of 'Operation Endurance', Get Safe Online is a joint venture between the public and private sector, including the Cabinet Office, The National Hi-Tech Crime Unit and companies such as BT, Dell, eBay, HSBC, LloydsTSB, MessageLabs and Microsoft.

Home users who fail to understand the threats which exist online are currently among the greatest threats posed to business. Botnets - the networks of compromised machines connected to broadband services – are responsible for much of the spam and virus propagation in the world. Earlier this year nearly one million Telewest broadband home users found themselves blacklisted due to the high number of blueyonder IP addresses which were relaying spam email.

This largely suburban problem has a major impact on businesses.

Security guru and founder of Counterpane, Bruce Schneier, told silicon.com: "The very security of your business relies upon my mother's security. And she doesn't care. If her computer is launching viruses or sending spam, she doesn't care – that's all an externality to her."

Marsh told silicon.com Get Safe Online is intended to make the Mrs Schneiers of this world start caring about their own security and said he hopes that will have a knock-on effect for more secure computing globally.

Get Safe Online will launch next Thursday, 27 October.

Marsh says he expects it to launch with a fanfare. "We really hope this won't go unnoticed," he added.

silicon.com will bring you an update next week.