What is the Government Doing to Keep Users Safe Online?
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Web surfers and Web hosts face online attacks of various sorts. While we as individuals and companies can only struggle our best to meet the onslaught, what is the government doing to help? Quite a bit, actually. Though we may not notice the effects immediately, actions taken today could make for a safer Internet tomorrow.
The number of threats that any user of the Internet faces continues to grow on a daily and sometimes hourly basis. Antivirus companies give frequent reports about application vulnerabilities that could leave computers and servers open to attack. Zombie computers, controlled by malicious hackers, deliver distributed denial of service attacks to websites and Internet service providers, knocking them offline. Con artists of various stripes also use zombies frequently to send floods of that email nuisance known as spam.
Threats can be covert as well as overt. For example, regular Web surfers may find that software designed to spy on their movements online has been loaded onto their computers without their knowledge or consent. For example, I visit a fairly specific list of sites, all of which I trust – but when I ran an anti-spyware program recently, about two months after running it for the first time, it found 30 applications that it identified as spyware.
The Internet has a long history of being an “anything goes” kind of experience, a place with few if any rules. Many observers and analysts have frequently compared it to the Wild West. The Wild West may have been an exciting time and place, but it must have been a challenge to run a business then. Even with many of the advantages an online business can offer over going the bricks-and-mortar route, there comes a point when people start saying “There ought to be a law!” and believe the government should step in.
Whether, when, and how the government should become involved in safeguarding the Internet is a political discussion that I will not get into here. The truth is, the U.S. government, and the governments of other countries, have seen the increase in Internet-related problems, and decided to take action. No single article can cover everything being done; what follows is a sampling of news items that describe what the government has been doing to help make the Internet safer. All of the stories hit online news sites in about the same time frame.
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