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Australia to join European Cybercrime Convention

By Trevor Clarke, Computerworld Australia
May 01, 2010 01:02 PM ET

Computerworld Australia - The Federal Government has announced its intention to sign the Council of Europe Convention on Cybercrime.

Australia will join the European Union, the United States, Canada, Japan and South Africa after the EU pushed for its convention to become the international standard on cybercrime.

Among other things the treaty requires countries to have a representative available 24 hours a day to assist in investigations while also obliging them to create domestic laws. It also promises the facilitation of greater international cooperation.

To date, 27 countries have ratified the treaty, but more than 100 are using it as a basis for reforming their domestic legislative framework.

The treaty outlines four criminal offences:

  • "Offences against the confidentiality, integrity and availability of computer data and systems, including illegal access to computer systems, illegal interception, data interference, systems interference and the misuse of devices;
  • computer-related offences, including forgery and fraud;
  • content-related offences, including child pornography; and
  • offences related to the infringement of copyright and other related rights"

The announcement follows Australia's involvement in the negotiations for the controversial Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) by 10 nations and the European Union.

In recent months, the issue of cyber security has hit the headlines with the revelation that mining giant, Rio Tinto, had its systems hacked and a corporate customer of Optus' was hit by a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack.

A group calling itself 'Anonymous', also recently launched a denial of service (DoS) attack on two government websites to protest the Federal Government's plans to introduce mandatory ISP-level Internet content filtering.

The attack, named "Operation Titstorm", hit the Australian Parliament House and the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy (DBCDE) websites.

Despite a lot of this recent spotlight revolving around attacks allegedly coming out of China, the greatest threat to Australian organisations is corporate espionage, rather than state-sponsored hacking, a security expert has warned.

Aside from the move to join the European cybercrime treaty, the Australian government has made several other moves to combat these threats and other potential cyber risks.

Australia's biggest banks, telcos, and utilities, for example, have handed sensitive data to government for the protection of critical infrastructure (CI) against terrorism and natural disasters.

The rare move, which began in 2009, makes the country one of a few in the world with a centralised national critical infrastructure protection model.

The Critical Infrastructure Protection Modeling and Assessment (CIPMA) program was launched in 2007 and received a $23.4 million funding boost to 2012 in last year's budget.

It is spearheaded by the Federal Attorney-General which received a $15.2 million share and its research department Geoscience Australia which scored $800,000.

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