The UK Home office is launching a new high-profile campaign to secure the internet against hacking. The campaign will be looking to target such activities as hacking groups using networks of infected computers to launch worm, spam and denial of service attacks, and in stopping botnets in general. The campaign features an official website, and an alert service to help non-IT specialists protect their computer systems.

Over the last 12 months, organised criminal groups have been releasing viruses to attack insecure PCs, creating networks of tens of thousands of infected machines, called botnets, which can be used to send spam or launch co-ordinated attacks against corporate IT systems.

"By protecting the home and small business user more, and by reducing the number of machines that might be compromised, actually what we are doing is minimising the risk to the critical national infrastructure. If everyone protected their home PC, there would be no botnets."

The work of the campaign will include encouraging home users and small businesses to sign up to the alert service, as well as providing advice on security incidents such as urgent threats that affect home PCs, PDAs and mobile phones. It expects to issue between six and 10 alerts a year, which will contain advice written in plain English for non-IT specialists.