Budget: E-security gets $13.6m boost

Budget: E-security gets $13.6m boost

Summary: The federal government will spend AU$13.6 million over the next four years trying to protect consumers and businesses from "sophisticated and targeted attacks", according to the Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts, Senator Helen Coonan.

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update The federal government will spend AU$13.6 million over the next four years trying to protect consumers and businesses from "sophisticated and targeted attacks", according to the Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts, Senator Helen Coonan.

In a statement issued this evening, Coonan said the government believes protecting home users and small businesses against electronic attacks is an "important priority".

"The e-security environment has changed significantly with an increase in more sophisticated and targeted attacks on home users and small to medium enterprises (SMEs).

"This package of measures will provide Australians with the information and skills to improve their computer defences and ensure they stay smart online," said Coonan.

She said the money -- allocated from this year's federal budget -- will be spent establishing an annual "National E-security Awareness Week", expanding the Stay Smart Online Web site [www.staysmartonline.gov.au], creating an education module on e-security for schools, and helping "compromised users restore their computer security".

The government has defined its role as an educator, according to John Alfano, Deloitte's financial crimes director in forensic, who said that the actual dollar value is relatively small because the banks and other organisations are expected to play their part.

"It is a small number but it's targeted at how the government sees its role, which is about educating users.

"[Banks] provide education to their customers, the infrastructure around authentication and fraud resources. Their spending on this is increasing year by year," said Alfano.

However, Michael Warrilow, director of Sydney-based analyst firm Hydrasight, dismissed the announcement as "an election-year stunt".

"Why do they think this is going to work this time when they completely got the National Office for Information and Economy (NOIE) wrong last time?

"It provides absolutely negative $13.6 million of value," Warrilow said.

Meanwhile, content filtering software is set to become freely available from July as part of the government's program to combat offensive online content. The AU$93.3 million National Filter Scheme will see software from five vendors provided via a government portal. The vendors will be determined by a request for tender issued last week.

Topics: Government, CXO, Government AU, Malware, Security, SMBs

Munir Kotadia

About Munir Kotadia

Munir first became involved with online publishing in 1998 when he joined ZDNet UK and later moved into print publishing as Chief Reporter for IT Week, part of ZDNet UK, a weekly trade newspaper targeted at Enterprise IT managers. He later moved back into online publishing as Senior News Reporter for ZDNet UK.

Munir was recognised as Australia's Best Technology Columnist at the 5th Annual Sun Microsystems IT Journalism Awards 2007. In the previous year he was named Best News Journalist at the Consensus IT Writers Awards.

He no longer uses his Commodore 64.

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5 comments
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  • Budget: E-security gets $13.6m boost

    The whole IT industry deserves a kick in the pants for this internet security stupidity! While organsiations struggle to protect their IT assets, we seriously expect the average family to be able to do the same? And why do we expect normal people to want to use PCs anyway? Where the hell is the retail internet appliance? Why don't we have entertainment access devices that are impervious to virus attacks, worms, trogens etc? Why this fixation that the internet must be accessed using a computer?
    Until the industry pulls it's collective finger out and provides consumer access devices that match consumer skill levels, then the internet will continue to be a security nightmare. The Govt can throw as much money as it likes at computer based defences but it won't make a bit of difference.
    anonymous
  • IT industry is not a scapegoat

    It's not the specific fault of the IT industry that it faces such incredible threats and hurdles, regulation of such a relatively new (in terms of human existence) ideology is not as straight forward as you'd think. Methods for security and protection on the Internet are incredible, and more R&D and investment by the industry as a whole has been injected to protect end-users than what has gone to protect your home, your car, your bicycle.

    Think about it, it's not the fact that stealing, breaking, disturbing or intruding on any of those personal assets is easier, there's a tangible, identifiable and strongly enforced penalty that applies to people that break these rules and boundaries - something that is sorely lacking in the IT realm.

    Don't blame the IT industry, sort out the people that are causing the problems. If the offenders knew the impacts and reality of being busted for a "crime" they committed was as harsh as for breaking into a car, they wouldn't do it. Or if the end users were held personally responsible for their own security and education in IT as they were for obeying the governmental laws, there would be less concern.

    It's not a thousand year old practice with a solid body of knowledge like medicine, law, accounting, maths etc. We're still working this stuff out. If people are going to continue to be susceptible and cry fowl for their own ignorance perhaps they shouldn't be allowed to use technology!
    anonymous
  • IT industry is to blame!

    All very well but TV is only 50 years old and it is a very sophisticated access solution and entertainment experience. In over 30 years, my TV has never had a virus, suffered a trogen, DOS or other such maliscious attacks. I have not needed a video editing suite or transmission control interface to watch it! Regardless of the origins of the internet, it is now becomming the prime entertainment and information access medium for this planet.
    My question is why are we still using computers to access this medium?
    Besides the 10% of people who are technical (nerds) no one else wants a computer interface. People want simple access technology with a form factor similar to TV. No applications, no security issues, no programming, just simple access to the media
    anonymous
  • Push vs Pull, Constraint vs Logic

    What you overlook with this comment is that the mediums you are dealing with are fundamentally different, and don't break down to fair, justifiable comparison.

    Television, even cable TV, by it's nature is a push mechanism where the consumers of the content do not have a choice to dictate how, where or when they get access to their content, let alone what constitutes that content (comedy, violence, romance, sex, language, horror...). Consumers are constrained to a one-way flow of information. Content quality, advertising, availability and content choice are all restrictions enforced on the consumer, and it requires further home infrastructure to do anything more with this content (record, fast forward, rewind, port across devices etc). And media providers further cannot accurately understand what it is that their consumers are requesting, watching, how they want, when they want it, or what they want to watch it on!

    Television is not a complex mechanism - sure the research and technology that went into it at the time was substantial, but it's not even worth considering given the lack of choice it provides consumers.

    I agree that the internet is becoming the strongest medium, because ultimately that's what consumers want. Options, choice, discretion, availability and lots of content. To access all this vast content there is not way to satisfactorily provide consumers with the experience they want without placing excessive constraints on who their media providers is, what content they want, when they want it, how they want it, for example provide someone with a little black box that can only access NineMSN or Yahoo! - you think consumers would be happy with that? The internet is ultimately made up of portals to other content, and any monopolisation or restriction of content will, as has been proven, ultimately frustrate and anger consumers (eg. MP3s, DRM, HD-DVD, DVD, V-Chip).

    People will always end up asking more of their technology, and expecting more control. The only people that want a little black box are the grey hairs that missed the entire movement.
    anonymous
  • Internet access technology

    Simon, I think you have missed my point. I understand that the internet is a complex technology and that TV is one dimensional in comparrison. My point is that the industry is focussed upon PCs as the access device and has not really progressed from the bulletin boards of the late eighties. I expect much more from the technology and the industry. From the many people I talk with, none say they particularly want a PC or the associated application and security hassles. Whilst I have been accessing the internet since inception (don't have the luxuary of grey hair!) I am frustrated by the lack of sophistication of access technology. To me a "little black box" is a far more sphisticated approach for the consumer market than the antiquated "we're stuck with PCs".
    anonymous