A new website offering free internet security bulletins has been launched by the UK government.

ITSafe.gov.uk contains a database of security information, including a glossary of terms, a library of advice and range of “How to…” guides to security procedures.

The site’s main feature is a bulletin service, which sends newsletters, updates and urgent alerts about security issues to your email or mobile phone.

The newsletters are to be issued quarterly, while bulletins on security issues and alerts on urgent issues requiring action will be sent out as often as required. The alerts will warn of specific threats and then direct subscribers to “clear, step-by-step advice” on how to respond to them.

Figures from the Office of National Statistics showed that, in 2004, 52 percent of households – almost 13m – had access to the internet. ITSafe.gov.uk is aimed at those home users – and small businesses – and the emphasis is very much on providing plain-English information and advice.

“There is a clear need for easy-to-understand and simple independent advice for non-technically minded people who use computers either at home or at work,” Home Office Minister Hazel Blears said.

“The purpose of this new Government service is to ensure computer users are aware of the risks involved and how to deal with them easily and effectively without causing alarm.”

The service is run from within the National Infrastructure Security Co-ordination Centre (NISCC, pronounced ‘nicey’). The Centre is a government department that deals with threats to the critical national infrastructure such as banking computer systems and the health service’s IT infrastructure.

NISCC will use resources from its pre-existing operations to feed information to the new site. Security threats NISCC judge as posing a threat to a large section of the population, with possible knock-on effects for the national infrastructure will form the subject of the site’s alerts. At current levels, NISCC estimates these will be no more than six to ten a year.