21 Sep 2011

Internet providers asked by federal government to set virus standards

Two companies may be asked by the U.S. federal government to set an industry standard for fighting against computer viruses known as botnets, according to a proposal by U.S. regulators, Reuters reports. Currently, individual users must decide what kind of antivirus software they want to use for their computer.

Reuters said the Homeland Security and Commerce departments are looking for comments through November 4 on the creation of a voluntary program that would attempt the reduce the harm botnets inflict on those who use computers.

"To build a botnet, hackers send out programs, often disguised as links or hidden in an email attachments, that infect a computer when opened," Reuters reports, adding that there are 3.5 million to 5.4 million botnets in existence and online. "Infected computers communicate invisibly with command machines, generating hard-to-trace spam and searching for user passwords and company secrets."

According to the government notice, companies and consumers may be able to address some of the issues on their own with antivirus software and other methods, but said there will need to be collaborative work to fully address to issue and protect computers. The notice said this will require effort on many fronts and better standards.