Experts call on governments to set up ‘cyber militias’ to fight cybercrime

Should the Government enlist the help of cyber-savvy civilians to help fight cybercrime?

Experts call on governments to set up ‘cyber militias’ to fight cybercrime

The rise of ransomware attacks has prompted one security expert to call on the Government to invest in a ‘cyber militia’, which would consist of cyber-savvy civilians who could help fight cybercrime.

A recent attack on the University of Calgary in Canada, in which the university had to hand over A$26,745 to hackers who encrypted its data and held it to ransom, has instigated the push for a ‘cyber militia’ to help protect our online interests.

Institutions such as universities are vulnerable and represent prime targets because of the large volume of important data they hold.

According to the Australian Centre for Cyber Security’s Professor Greg Austin: “Universities are a principal target for cyber attackers because of the important intellectual property that they contain in their systems. This attack on the University of Calgary shows that all major institutions, hospitals, businesses, universities … they’re all susceptible to dangerous and debilitating cyber-attacks of one kind of another.”

“We do have cyber capability in the Australian Defence Force right now, and it’s very good,” said Professor Austin. “But there’s a question of what do we need in addition to that, that crosses over into the civil sector for important tasks like critical infrastructure protection or for fighting cybercrime.”

“The advantage of having some sort of new militia-type arrangement is that you can draw on the skills that exist in the broader public, in the workforce, without necessarily having them in uniform full time, so you can draw on them when there’s a cyber emergency of some kind,” he added.

A model such as this already exists in Estonia, with its ‘Cyber Defence League’ that consists of IT specialists working in the civil sector who can be called upon to help out in case of extreme cyber-attacks.

Professor Austin believes the cost involved in setting up a similar cyber militia in Australia would be around $50 million each year.

“The Government has just issued a very important new Cyber Security Strategy and a Defence White Paper,” said Professor Austin. “They’ve allocated hundreds of millions of dollars for 1700 new posts in total, in uniform and in the civilian Defence Department.”

“We now need to decide how we’re going to spend that money and what the reserve component of our defence forces will look like,” he said.

What do you think of this idea? Would a cyber militia make you feel safer when surfing through cyber-space? Do you think it wise to give money to people who, on the one hand, may be able to protect our online interests, but on the other hand, have the ability to commit these same crimes? How would the Government vet such cyber militia?

Read more at www.abc.net.au

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    COMMENTS

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    JAID
    10th Jun 2016
    9:05am
    It always makes sense for government to make use of public assistance where effectiveness and sanity (or, societal objectives prevail.

    As with the fire fighter/arsonist syndrome you would expect the ocassional obsessive to abuse the position from time to time. As with fire fighters, certain honed skills could easily be abused. Overall objectives and effectiveness just have to be kept in mind.

    None of this is really new. As science and technology has developed humankind has always had to consider ramifications and how best to manage them.
    GrayComputing
    10th Jun 2016
    10:30am
    We do need good encryption and secure computer hardware, software and internet.

    First our government needs to decide and state publicly which side of the internet freedom and computer security side they are really on and truly and honestly act on it.

    In reality most governments are highly conflicted between promising to secure our computers and making networks safer and the urgent ill considered desire to catch terrorists, criminals by weakening all computers and networks and having broken and poor encryption.

    Many governments also collect massive meta data sets and do automated phone monitoring (legally or illegally) in the false belief that it is an effective technology.
    To do this monitoring effectively you need unsecure computers, poor networks and poor encryption.

    Some governments actively supress political opposition by weakening and blocking internet sites and banning good encryption and banning secure computer systems and methods.

    This all goes against us in Oz ever having a truly secure and trustable computer, phone or a secure internet.

    Oh what a mess!
    Idontforget
    10th Jun 2016
    10:49am
    How about a minimum gaol sentence of fifteen years, no parole period to apply for any hacker. That way the average Joe and Mary Citizen don't have to shell out to maintain cyber security. And the only people who are affected are the offender/s.
    Richied
    10th Jun 2016
    1:03pm
    The challenge is the majority of cyber-attacks originate overseas, making it extra-ordinarily difficult to investigate (especially in countries that do not have reciprocal policing arrangements with Australia).
    Richied
    10th Jun 2016
    11:32am
    Um, we already do have a cyber-threat response team - CERT (https://www.cert.gov.au/). And there is a forum where security executives from all government departments meet regularly.
    Kato
    10th Jun 2016
    11:50am
    why not they use everything else from the private sector under the prtofolios they pretend to run.
    Kato
    10th Jun 2016
    11:50am
    portfolios
    Mez
    10th Jun 2016
    12:12pm
    As I have a few of my family working in computer engineering and softwares design in Estonia, I know that Estonia is leading in this field.
    I can't help wondering, however, that a lot of money and time must be wasted on surveillance of the majority of the population like myself who have nothing to hide nor are a threat to national security.
    In cases where violent incidents have occurred as in the Martin Place one in Sydney, the surveillance was almost nonexistence!
    People like Scott Morrison who recently said that he is backing Islamic Sharia law ought to be very closely surveilled as indeed all the companies that have their food products Halal Certified.
    Sharia law mistreats women and believe in beheading!
    Money from Halal Certification is used for the building of Islamic colleges and mosques both here AND IN MALAYSIA as said by a Malaysian man interviewed by 4 Corners last year in Malaysia!
    Malaysia and Indonesia both are known to have terrorist training camps so the finance would no doubt also find its way there!
    Very difficult to avoid buying anything in supermarkets now, eg , almost all the breads are Halal Certified and they are NOT ALWAYS LABELLED as such as indeed most of the dairy products, chocolates and meats are Halal Certified!
    Maybe ALL pollies ought to be closely surveilled if not already for allowing this to become widespread!
    I am now voting for the independents since learning of Morrison backing Sharia law!
    Richied
    10th Jun 2016
    12:46pm
    This article is more about cyber-attacks (attacks on computer systems) rather than electronic surveillance or physical attacks plotted using computers/internet.

    I'm wondering what the heck Morrison's views have to do with this discussion (and by the way, Morrison didn't explicitly back Sharia law - he defended tax changes that accommodated sovereign investment funds - that just happen to include those operating in countries that have Sharia law AS WELL AS those operating in countries that have other laws like Westminster).
    Mez
    10th Jun 2016
    12:57pm
    Richied you haven't read my article properly and cyber and surveillance occur together which explains why it is widespread on all members of the public.
    Morrison's views have a lot to do with surveillance but apparently you are not very well informed in these matters!
    Richied
    10th Jun 2016
    1:06pm
    Please quote the part of the article that talks of surveillance or terrorism.

    Actually, you'd be surprised how informed I am around cyber-threats.
    TREBOR
    11th Jun 2016
    4:53pm
    Well - she does have the face that would let her get away..... so she can discuss anything she likes..... we men are still suckers..

    Many cyber problems come from Eastern Europe as well as Asia, and it is a god thing to have people in and near those areas working the ropes...

    All that is needed now, Tovarish, is a gulag for hackers... this way is disciplined and maybe put to good use for mother country...
    Andy
    10th Jun 2016
    12:14pm
    KEEP them out of it, they have CERT same thing really, can anyone tell me how good they have been at protecting the public?
    Richied
    10th Jun 2016
    12:49pm
    I've had some dealings with CERT and other federal government security forums, and they are extremely busy and pretty effective. It's fairly difficult to determine just how effective they are, given a lot of cyber-crime is hidden, and sometimes the effects can't even be traced back to a cyber-attack.
    Lescol
    10th Jun 2016
    12:55pm
    Cyber security is very much an issue but I question exactly what is being proposed here and how it would function. It seems another thought bubble at present. I would also note that the ransom ware pirates cannot succeed against properly designed and maintained systems. cheers.
    Richied
    10th Jun 2016
    1:16pm
    Agree overall. I suspect that the proposal is to expand (say) CERT into leveraging private enterprise more, and develop (perhaps) a cyber-reserve.

    However it's extremely difficult to keep ahead of the wave of cyber-attacks, even with strengthened systems. DoD in the US has been hacked, as have numerous Australian government departments, plus banks. And with the dramatic increase in mobile device usage, those challenges become greater. Security is always compromised by its weakest point, and for most systems that is the allowance of access by the public. And most home systems are not nearly sufficiently well maintained (how many people use VPNs, anti-malware, anti-virus, two-factor authentication, keep all software and drivers up to date, have all their passwords superstrong, are people still using Flash, etc?)
    biddi
    10th Jun 2016
    1:50pm
    Good Morning. This is "India" calling ......
    Richied
    10th Jun 2016
    2:11pm
    hehe
    Mez
    10th Jun 2016
    1:57pm
    Richied, I will have to agree to disagree with you as you appear to be blowing a lot of hot air purporting to know a lot about it when you quoted that have merely had a lot of dealings with it which does not make you an expert any more than myself who is surrounded by computer graduates in my family even though I may know a lot about it it does not make you nor I an expert.
    By the way, we will NEVER be hack free so do not trust the banks and the like that it is erfectly safe to do online banking because it never is and never will be.
    biddi
    10th Jun 2016
    2:05pm
    Thanks for the good and reassuring opinion, Mez :)
    Richied
    10th Jun 2016
    2:10pm
    Ok: I'll describe my credentials. For five years I was technology program director for one of the federal enforcement agencies. We did electronic surveillance to identify cyber-crime, and spent an inordinate amount of time fighting attacks on our systems.

    So, what are your credentials?
    Richied
    10th Jun 2016
    2:12pm
    (oh, and you forgot to show where in the article it talks of surveillance or terrorism).
    Alipal
    10th Jun 2016
    7:21pm
    Found this interesting NY Times article from yonks ago. Applies equally today. http://www.nytimes.com/2007/01/12/opinion/12fri3.html?ex=1169269200&en=00ae245916e402b5&ei=5070
    Mez
    10th Jun 2016
    10:08pm
    Alipal......read your article in the New York Times 2007 on keeping one's software updated at all times and yes,I have been aware of that yonks ago during my secondary school teaching years. After having returned to nursing, this has been ever more essential in that confidentiality of patients' private details must not be compromised if the medical and hospital computer systems were to be hacked.
    TREBOR
    11th Jun 2016
    4:49pm
    A good rule of thumb is to always look for the clods in the silver lining when government comes up with a brain-fart.


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