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White House Formulating Plan to Shut Down Virus-Spreading Computer Systems


"This is much larger than any one company, any specific country, any specific government or any individual."

One computer with a virus can easily spread the infection around to many. Just as some human infections are quarantined, the White House, along with private companies and trade groups, is looking into how to stop the spread of malware among botnets.

A botnet results when a group of computers become "compromised" by a virus and continue spreading them to others. The hacker is often able to control computers within a botnet.

PC World has more on the coordination of the effort stop botnets that was announced by the Obama Administration today:

"This is much larger than any one company, any specific country, any specific government or any individual," White House Cybersecurity Coordinator Howard Schmidt said during a launch event at the White House. The U.S. government is teaming up with Internet service providers, privacy groups, search engines, trade associations, Internet companies and education groups to "tackle this on all fronts," he said.

Botnets are especially dangerous because they use "our own computers against us," Schmidt added.

For example, PC World goes on to report co-president of the security software company McAfee Michael DeCesare saying in the first quarter of 2012 alone, about 5 million computers in the U.S. were infected with this type of virus.

The Huffington Post reports the initiative between the White House, Industry Botnet Group and others will include a pilot program for banking and Internet providers:

The program will notify customers when their computers have been infected with malware and will share data about botnets to help make online banking safer, according to Bill Nelson, president of the Information Sharing and Analysis Center, a financial services firm whose members include major banks and credit card companies. Nelson said that details of the pilot program would be announced in about a month.

The Industry Botnet Group -- formed by trade associations and non-profits -- also released voluntary principals to "heighten awareness of the threat of botnets, encourage prevention measures, provide a path to notification when botnets are detected, and increase the availability of remediation and recovery tools to end users."

Government Security News notes agencies such at the FBI, Secret Service and the Commerce department have ramped up their efforts to facilitate information sharing in the private sector that would help shut down botnets.

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