Australians can “officially worry” about cybercrime

Australia is ill prepared to protect its citizens from increasing cyber threats.

Australians can “officially worry” about cybercrime

A new report by the special adviser to the Prime Minister on cyber security, Alastair MacGibbon, says that Australians effectively have a right to worry about cybercrime.

After being commissioned to undertake an investigation into what happened with the ABS breach on Census night, Mr MacGibbon responded with a 91-page report that basically said "Attribution of malicious actors online is difficult and denial of service incidents are hard to trace."

In other words: we’re not entirely sure.

Already wary of sharing personal and financial details online, the Census debacle left many Australians even more sceptical about internet security. 

Mr MacGibbon’s report underlines the fact that cyberattacks are becoming more commonplace and are difficult to police and prosecute. Online criminal activities range from countries trying to steal information to gain economic or strategic advantage and cybercriminals stealing people’s financial and personal information, to ideologically-driven ‘hactivism’.

According to Telstra Chief Executive Andy Penn, the scale of cybercrime the company sees each day is “pretty frightening".

Mr Penn said that although increased connectivity can be a positive force, it also makes it easier for online crime, espionage and protest.

This year alone, we’ve seen Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks on major websites such as the ABS Census site, Twitter, Airbnb, Amazon, Reddit and The New York Times. And let’s not forget Yahoo! admitting to more than 500 million accounts being hacked in one of the biggest data breaches of all time. Then there are the allegations of Russia hacking Democrat email accounts so it could influence the US Presidential Election.

According to Fairfax Media, in the last financial year, Australia’s Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT Australia) responded to 14,804 cyber security incidents. In the last two years, 65 per cent of Australian organisations experienced some form of cybercrime. Over one in 10 of them reported losses of more than $1 million. Cybercrime is now the main economic crime in Australia.

UNSW's Australian Centre for Cyber Security (ACCS) believes that cyber threats should be treated as a national emergency and that if Australia is to handle current and future threats, we need to hire 8000 cyber security specialists today.

"If the world's No.1 military power and technology power has made that assessment and backed that up with a number of policy decisions in the past year, we should take our understanding from that," said the ACCS’s Professor Greg Austin.

Over 90 per cent of Australians will be online by 2017 and by 2019 it is expected that each household will have an average of 24 devices that access the internet.

Over the next four years, the Government plans to spend around $230 million on its Cyber Security Strategy.

Although this is just a small step towards making Australia ‘cyber safe’, Mr MacGibbon says the Government and businesses need to work together to protect Australians from online threats and to educate them to become more cyber-savvy.

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu may have hit the nail on the head when he said: “The good people should co-operate because the bad people are co-operating”.

Read more at The Age.

Do you feel safe online? How do you ensure cyber safety?



    To make a comment, please register or login
    6th Dec 2016
    I have always had and continue to have significant issues with providing personal details to companies, most of which are based offshore with their Call Centres having this information at their disposal.
    Identity theft is real and people need to be aware of what they give. Only yesterday I was asked by Airbnb to verify myself by providing a driver's license number and Passport information. Together with DOB and address identity thieves are home and hosed.
    None of us needs to be so naive as to think that our data is safe. If it is not on sold then it is open to hacking. Either way we all all then vulnerable and who wants the life changing effects of identity theft to deal with at our age.
    6th Dec 2016
    It is getting to a point where conducting business 'on-line' is starting to get hazardous. Many functions now transacted via internet could, and should where possible, be taken 'off line'. The last census is an example of a function that could, in hindsight, have been better and more safely conducted 'off line', in the traditional way with human enumerators and forms designed to facilitate computer scanning, with all the data processed on a stand alone computer. Yes that would cost more dollars but, I suggest, the integrity of the data and the confidence of the population that their information is safe would justify the extra cost. Doing your tax return on-line is another area that couild be re-thought.
    6th Dec 2016
    Credit card details to a well established business or through a well known company has minimal risk. More inconvenience than anything else plus you are covered for a refund. Identity fraud is another thing altogether. That is serious.
    6th Dec 2016
    You are correct Mick, and I do many credit card and PayPal transactions on-line myself but all I am risking is the banks money. As you say identity theft is far more serious and the information detailed in the on-line census or your tax returns could compromise your identity. With identity theft they steal your integrity and that is much harder to replace. No amount of reassurance that the data is encrypted and safe will not convince me that it is an acceptable risk.
    6th Dec 2016
    Offshore Call Centres just a training ground for hackers, this is just the start.For god sake wake up Malcome stop sending all our kids jobs over seas.
    12th Dec 2016
    First: There are no secure computers (hardware or software) available anywhere in the world!
    Second: military grade secure computers (MULTICS) were build in the 60s and although well published about have long been ignored by the Microsoft, Intel and the Apples in the world.
    Third: Today not a single government or their agencies in the world wants the unwashed masses to have truly secure computers.
    Conclusion: So we are totally stuffed.
    15th Dec 2016
    Check out a real life cybercrime story and read how small actions can lead you to be a victim of cybercrime. Also learn how to avoid such steps and how to protect yourself from being a victim from here

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