Efforts to solve the issue have been hindered a bit by a few factors: Many computer users don't fully understand how their computers work. The cyber world of viruses, malware, bank fraud and Internet scams is often distant and confusing, and warning messages may go unseen or unheeded.
And other people simply don't trust the government, and believe that federal authorities are only trying to spy on them, or take over the Internet, by pushing solutions to the infection. Blogs and other Internet forums are riddled with postings warning of the government using the malware as a ploy to breach American citizens' computers — a charge the FBI and other security experts familiar with the malware quickly denounced as ridiculous.
There is an underlying sense that this has been much ado about nothing — like the hoopla over Y2K, when the transition to the year 2000 presented technical problems and fears that some computers would stop working because they were not set up for the date change. In the end, as in this case, there were very few problems.
Rep. Jim Langevin, D-R.I., who co-founded the cybersecurity caucus in Congress, said computer users have a responsibility to practice good hygiene and make sure their computers have not been infected or hijacked by criminals.
"These types of issues are only going to increase as our society relies more and more on the Internet, so it is a reminder that everyone can do their part," he said.
Chester Wisniewski, senior security adviser at computer security firm Sophos, said it would have been better to turn off the safety net earlier, so that people can clean up their computers.
"There is only so much responsibility the American government has to continue to run this stuff," he said. "If you still have this virus it's likely that you have others."
Ortutay reported from New York. Associated Press Technology Writer Youkyung Lee in Seoul, South Korea, contributed to this report.
Lolita C. Baldor can be followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/lbaldor and Barbara Ortutay is at http://twitter.com/BarbaraOrtutay
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