Thursday, March 24, 2011

ACS Political Manifesto

Greetings from the Australian Computer Society Canberra Branch conference at the Canberra Hyatt. Brice Lakin, ACS CEO, presented the "ACS Political Manifesto" which included having an ICT cabinet portfolio, the use of broadband for boosting the economy, promotion of skills with work integrated learning. In answer to a question Bruce pointed that ACS hosts the Australian Council of Deans of ICT to help promote education.

The next speaker was Detective Superintendent Brad Marden, Australian Federal Police, talking about cyber security. He asked who in the audience had contact with the AFP or other cyber security services. Several of the audience related their experiences. Superintendent Marden pointed out that in past decades most cases investigated were about insiders in organisations misusing their organisation's systems. Today the major issue is intrusion from the outside. The AFP cyber staff are a mixture of computer security experts and traditional police. One team concentrates on banking and financial cyber crime. He made the point that those attacking financial systems are professional criminals motivated by greed, not teenagers out for thrills. Other teams infiltrate online criminal groups. He is up-skilling the organisation to cope with new developments, such as smart phones.

The AFP investigates crimes under Criminal code Part 10-7. This prohibits unauthorised access and destruction of data on government computers and telecommunications networks. When Australia adopts the European Convention on Cyber-crime this will help sharing data on crime.

Apart from catching criminals, the AFP also helps the community prevent crime. Superintendent Marden claimed that the major threat to computer security is staff in an organisation inadvertently giving out sensitive information. He gave the example of social engineering, where the criminal induces the staff member to give away their password without realising they are doing it.

Some "botnets" now have multi-gigabit per second traffic flows. This allows an attacker to flood a target system and disable access to it. Rather than wait for this to happen, the AFP would prefer to find out who has this capability beforehand and prevent it happening.

Superintendent Marden mentioned the group "anonymous" Linkwhich is effectively leaderless. Interestingly the group was selling masks (like the mask Hugo Weaving wore in the movie "V for Vendetta"). He commented that such groups are something society has to come to terms with. People have the right to peaceful protest, but not throw rocks through windows.

Superintendent Marden mentioned that 4G smart phones will present a threat to computer networks as they have considerable processing capacity and bandwidth.

"Think You Know" is an information program online to educate the public.

Superintendent Marden mentioned that there was work under way to provide one place to report cyber-crime and the matter would be referred to the relevant agency.

ps: I missed the conference opening address. This is usually made by a senior politician from the governing party. Interesting this year it was from Senator Scott Ludlam, from the Australian Greens.

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