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Web scam hoodwinks web founding father

Berners-Lee burned

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Even the inventor of the world wide web isn't immune from online crime.

Sir Tim Berners-Lee, who developed the idea for today's interwebs two decades ago, has told The Telegraph he was recently hoodwinked by a fraudulent website when he went online to buy a Christmas present.

"The moment I called the 0800 number listed on the website, there was a very polite message saying this number is available if you would like to use it, so a little bit of due diligence on my part would have revealed it wasn't what it was set up to be," the British-born professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology told the paper.

He went on to say that internet service providers needed to do more to make sure the net is a safer place for their customers.

"I personally feel that if you have systems that allow you to isolate the infected systems and cut them off until they have been disinfected, it would be a way of preserving service for everyone else," he said. "It would reduce the amount of spam by a huge amount and making the internet a place where viruses don't thrive."

The notion that malware-possessed PCs should be isolated in the cyber equivalent of a padded cell is by no means new. But despite frequent calls for ISPs to rein in abuse on their networks, there's little evidence most providers bother to take such actions.

At the same time, Sir Tim recognized the need for law enforcement agencies throughout the world to work together. International agreements, he said, would help prevent cybercriminals from eluding authorities by hiding in countries outside their jurisdictional reach.

He added: "Sometimes we need new laws, but in other cases we need to realise that old laws can still be applied to the web." ®

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