The issue of cybercrime now reaches the national level

Article (Broadcast transcript)

HACKED! – Four Corners (ABC) Video and transcript through this link

Previous coverage on HomeNetworking01.info

Interview and Presentation–Security Issues associated with cloud-based computing (Interview with Alastair MacGibbon and Brahman Thyagalingham )

Symantec Symposium 2012 – My Observations From This Event

My Comments

I had watched the Four Corners “Hacked” broadcast concerning data security and cyber espionage, which encompassed the issue of the cyber attacks affecting nations as a whole.

The show had touched on a few key points, some of which were raised in the previous events that I attended. Here, it underscored the factor of hacking being part of espionage by nation-states like China. The targets of this espionage were intellectual-property belonging to private-sector companies or government departments, especially where military information was involved.

Example incidents include the recent theft of blueprints for ASIO’s new offices along with a cyber attack against Codan who is an electronics supplier to Australian and allied defence forces. The tactics that were used against Codan included use of a public-access Wi-Fi network to install malware on a laptop belonging to a representative of that company when they visited China, along with a “spear-phishing” attack on their email. It also underscored the fact that it is not the entity’s computer networks that are at risk but the “crown jewels” i.e. the key intellectual property that belongs to the entity.

The same show also underscored the use of malware to target essential-services systems like a nuclear enrichment plant in Iran and an Indian telecommunications satellite. Here, they raised the spectre of electricity grids, telecommunications backbones and similar infrastructure being targeted by sophisticated cyber attacks. This becomes more real as most essential-services systems become computer-controlled and connected to the Internet and I would like to see the issue of these systems designed with fail-safe operation in mind such as working offline and providing the core services at known specifications if things go wrong online.

Later on in this show, Alastair MacGibbon had called for the Australian government to require businesses and other organisations to publicly disclose cyber attacks and wanted this across the board for all entities. This was previously underscored by him through the interview and presentation where he described Australia’s data protection laws as being careless as typical of the “She’ll Be Right” nation.

The Australian Government had improved their data-protection laws by tabling bills that require cyber-attack disclosure on the larger public companies rather than all companies.

As well, the issue of cyber espionage by nation-states was being considered as the equivalent of wartime activities like nuclear war and treatment of civillians and needed to be tackled on an international level in a similar way that other similar wartime activities have been dealt with. Personally, I see the latest cyber-attacks, especially those emanating from countries that were behind the Iron Curtain, as the makings of another “Cold War” and these have to be treated accordingly.

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