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End users weakest security link: AFP

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Fewer than half of all home computer users protect their systems from viruses, cyber-crime and other hacking, Australian Federal Police e-crime chief Neil Gaughan told federal parliament this week in a wide-ranging testimony.

Gaughan, the national manager of the AFP's High Tech Crime Operations Centre, said awareness of cyber-crime is severely lacking across the country. "They don't ensure that their software is up to date," Cmdr Gaughan told the committee on Wednesday. "You've got to continually update these things."

The Australian Federal Police (AFP) was keenly aware of the many problems technology was creating. "Technology will continue to propose many problems for the AFP," he told the committee.

Commander Gaughan mentioned the growing trend of hacking into social networking websites, such as Facebook, where hackers are now stealing identities and money.

From December, Australia will take on leadership of the Virtual Global Taskforce, a multinational group that works to keep children and others safe online.

The AFP is in "regular dialogue" with large-scale anti-virus companies, such as McAfee, but one of the problems is that "there are so many internet service providers in this country".

A change in culture was needed, he said, to turn people from being ambivalent about internet security to being aware of the need to check for software upgrades regularly. "We see education as actually the key. The end user is actually the weakest link," Gaughan said.

National Broadband Network

Security must be at the centre of the National Broadband Network (NBN) as cyber-crime rises, Gaughan.

The Federal Government's plan for a $43 billion network to run around the nation has started in Tasmania, but there has been little talk about security risks that might be associated with the network.

"We need to ensure the security and the resilience ... is quite strong," Gaughan said. He warned "there have been incidents in the recent past" when it comes to large Australian companies being targeted for cyber espionage.

Earlier this week the nation's biggest telco, Telstra, warned the planned broadband network was not going to fix internet access for all across the continent.

Speaking at the Telecoms World Australia conference on Tuesday, Telstra executive David Quilty welcomed the NBN initiative but said it would not solve all the industry's problems. "The NBN I don't think should be seen as a cure-all in terms of the provision of telecom services or the provision of broadband in this country," he said.

"The reality is there is another significant global trend going on, and that is mobility trend." Wireless broadband and mobile broadband were both going to continue to play a very significant part in terms of the provision of services.

A network was only as good as the services it provided, Quilty said. Under new chief David Thodey, Telstra has adopted a more conciliatory approach in its dealings with the government, especially in relation to the NBN.

But rival Optus said that while Mr Thodey might be nice to deal with, the big telco's corporate behaviour would not alter until industry regulation changed.
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Home>World news>End users weakest security link: AFP
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