HC Deb 17 September 2003 vol 410 cc762-3W
Dr. Murrison

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what plans she has for reducing the threat from computer viruses. [130197]

Mr. Timms

Malicious software—including viruses—is a global phenomenon. No one Government can eliminate the development and spread of malicious software but the Government are playing their part in a range of activities to minimise the impact on users. We are talking to vendors about improving the identification of vulnerabilities in software and the underlying protocols. We are working with industry to disseminate advice a bout the availability of solutions to the problems which are identified and how to deal with the difficulties posed by events, such as viruses, which exploit those vulnerabilities. The Department has taken a prominent role in the promotion of good information security management and has developed promotional material aimed at helping smaller companies understand and deal with common security problems. The detection and prosecution of those who create malicious software is the responsibility of the Home Office and Section 3 of the Computer Misuse Act already criminalises the unauthorised modification of the contents of any computer, which includes modifications caused by viruses. My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary is, however, reviewing the effectiveness of the Act and, as part of this process, will consider whether any further legislation is required to further deter those who write or knowingly disseminate computer viruses.