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Cyberattack alert service helps Aussies Stay Smart

The Federal government has launched a new security alert service for small business and home users, aimed at helping Australians protect themselves from cyberattack.
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Written by Marcus Browne on

The Federal government has launched a new security alert service for small business and home users, aimed at helping Australians protect themselves from cyberattacks.

The Federal Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy has today unveiled its new online threat alert service through the Stay Smart Online website.

The free subscription-based service will provide internet users with up-to-date advice on the latest e-security threats and advice on how to deal with them.

The alert service is available from today via the Stay Smart Online website, along with a tool to help small businesses analyse their online security practices and adopt appropriate measures to improve online security.

Graham Ingram, general manager of the Australian Computer Emergency Response Team (AusCERT) — the organisation in charge of developing and overseeing the service — said the initiative is targeting SMEs. "We do look at security issues very much on the national level, that's our focus, for quite some time AusCERT has been trying to raise awareness in Australia of the growing threat of attacks on home and small business machines.

"The services currently out there are really designed for corporates, in the face of a user survey we did at this year's [AusCERT security] conference we saw a really clear gap emerge with regards to home and small business users ... this service is designed to support those who don't have access to professional security resources."

According to Ingram, the service is designed to pick up and alert subscribers to global threats, but contains "Australian-centric" features to identify attacks specifically targeted here, such as social engineering scams with culprits sending data purporting to be from Australian institutions such as the Reserve Bank and Australian Tax Office.

The service has already attracted approval from some quarters. "This is certainly a much better initiative than NetAlert ... I can say that without question," said James Turner, security analyst with research firm IBRS.

"What this really does is underline the need for a lot of things to be taken care of in the cloud by the ISPs themselves ... too much of the onus still falls on end users," he said.

While Turner believes the service is worthwhile if it "gets people using firewalls, antivirus and anti-spam software", he maintained that the level of education required for above average protection in the current environment is beyond the reach of most home and small business users.

"Large enterprises have a huge amount of resources and expertise, most small businesses simply don't ... if you talked to many of them [small businesses] I'm sure they'd happily pay an extra fee on top of their normal broadband subscription to get that kind of service," said Turner.

"ISPs should be looking at providing a level of managed security in the cloud and filtering out these nasties before they come down the line to small business," he said.

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