The UK’s National Hi-Tech Crime Unit (NHTCU) has launched a new website to help Internet users and businesses secure their PCs from attack.

Get Safe Online is the work of the NHTCU in conjunction with the UK Government, and a raft of private sponsors including BT, Dell, eBay, HSBC, Lloyds TSB, Microsoft, MessageLabs, securetrading.com and Yell.com.

Each of the latter is believed to have paid up to £150,000 to be a launch sponsor.

The site was launched in response to research indicating that the general public and small businesses were still in the dark of the growing range of threats they now faced.

As many as 42 percent of users were relying on friends and family to get security advice, it was claimed at the campaign launch. Meanwhile, 83 percent of users were reckoned to have only partial knowledge of security threats.

“Increasingly we are seeing organised criminals turning to the Internet as a vehicle for their criminality. And as more of us are connecting to the Internet to shop, bank and communicate, we need to make sure that we do so as safely as possible,” commented Sharon Lemon, NHTCU head.

The site itself will offer a broad spectrum of advice on specific threats, along with bullet point lists on how to plan for them from the perspective of household and small business users.

As well as the problem of conventional malware, the site also offers information on more complex problems such as identity theft along with links to report crimes.

Unlike the much-criticised government ITsafe website - which offers information on specific threats from a technical perspective - Get Safe Online is meant to function simply as an awareness-raising, information and advice service.

A sensitive issue is likely to be the influence of sponsors, none of which will have paid to have their names on the homepage without wanting something in return.
The site’s advice pages do feature links to launch sponsors, but doesn’t appear to favour them at the expense of offering comprehensive advice.