CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Computer giant Microsoft estimates there were 11 million PC's infected with viruses in just the first three months of 2010.
Some recent security studies indicate that the United States is number one in the world for infected computers. Security experts are thinking of new and innovative ways to stop the infections from spreading.
WBTV Cyber security Expert, Theresa Payton, says one option they are researching would effectively UNPLUG your computer from the internet.
WHAT EXPERTS ARE RESEARCHING:
Australia plans to launch a program later this year allowing their Internet service providers to alert customers if their computers are taken over by hackers. As part of the plan, if the problem goes unfixed, they can block their access.
Why? Just like in the physical world when we ask people to stay home from work when they are sick so they don't spread illness, "sick" computers send out emails and attachments that can infect other computers.
Do we need to care about what Australia does? Yes, because it may be an option the U.S. considers adopting.
In the U.S., security leaders and government officials have been strategizing about how to stop infections from spreading.
THE CHALLENGE TO UNPLUGGING INFECTED COMPUTERS:
The challenge is, how do I monitor your computer but protect your privacy? Who decides when your computer is "sick enough" to unplug?
If you are unplugged, how do you get the software you need and the help you need to clean your computer/
TIPS TO KNOW IF YOU MIGHT BE INFECTED:
- Machines operates slow
- Random pop up messages
- Friends and family receive odd emails from your account
- When computer is on but you are not doing anything, you can see the hard drive light come on
WHAT TO DO IF YOU SUSPECT YOU ARE INFECTED:
- Update your internet browsers, computer operating system, and anti virus software
- If you think you are still infected, see a computer technician professional
- As soon as you believe the infection is cleared up, change ALL of your passwords
A great resource to help you spot infected emails, find tools to diagnose your computer, and compare computer security software packages is: www.onguardonline.gov
If you use Microsoft, they provide a free security scan of your computer and removal tools if infection is found. Go to: http://www.microsoft.com/security/malwareremove/default.aspx