In an exclusive interview with Computing, Cumming said it is essential that consumers are better informed about the potential dangers of their broadband-enabled machines.
And with Prime Minister Tony Blair promising broadband internet access for all British homes if he gets a third term in power, UK security experts are calling on ISPs and the government to educate consumers.
‘The sophistication is such now that machines that are compromised can be used to attack the critical national infrastructure,’ Cumming said.
By using trojans and viruses to attack insecure home and work PCs, cyber-criminals are building ‘bot-armies’ of compromised computers that can be used to attack government web sites, energy firms, banks and other critical systems with distributed denial of service attacks (DDoS), he says.
‘We need to up the security game of ordinary citizens because if they fall down on information security then their compromised machines can be used against us,’ says Cumming.
‘There is a widespread increase in broadband access to the internet, but until now no one has considered all the security implications.’
Detective Inspector Chris Simpson at the Metropolitan Police’s Computer Crime Unit told Computing that both teenage’script-kiddies’ and organised crime syndicates are increasingly targeting broadband-based home and office PCs.
‘A compromised broadband machine is an attractive acquisition for cyber criminals, as they can be used as a spam proxy or for DDoS attacks,’ Simpson said.
‘But a lot of these problems could be solved if there was more education of the end users by ISP, retailers, law enforcement bodies and governments – it’s a job for everyone,’ he said.
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