House debates

Monday, 21 June 2010


Communications Committee; Report

9:04 pm

Photo of Kay HullKay Hull (Riverina, National Party) Share this | Hansard source

I rise to support the Chair of the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Communications in the tabling of the report of the inquiry into cybercrime, titled Hackers, fraudsters and botnets: tackling the problem of cyber crime. I congratulate the chair of the committee for the fantastic work that she did in her leadership of this committee. As the deputy chair, I certainly appreciated the effort that she and the rest of the committee members put in. I would also like to take the time to thank the committee secretariat for their diligent and dedicated hard work to ensure that this report actually is a report that, I am sure, will not gather dust in the future. I am sure that this report will have many of the recommendations within it put into practice. I am hoping that that will be the case because a significant amount of hard work went into it.

Fishing, virus, worms, trojan horses, botnets—one might be forgiven for thinking that this could be just science fiction; however, this is language that we as consumers of the internet must become familiar with. We need to accept that the internet is a valuable form of communication but, as technology advances rapidly, we must implement protection mechanisms that can play a role in protecting consumers against criminal activity that causes devastation and wreaks havoc on the victims.

Over the past few years, criminal activity has increased dramatically as a result of utilisation of the internet. During evidence given, we were told that when a home user fell victim to a scam the cybercriminal put the respondents of these scams onto what they called a ‘sucker list’. This list is then used to distribute further scams. So, rather than people thinking, ‘Well, I’ve been caught once and now I will be left alone,’ they actually are targeted even more intensely with alternative scams. It is quite a shame to see that people can get caught time and time again. It might be thought that the people who get caught are not savvy people. Well, that is certainly not true.

During the evidence we heard that there is huge concern for the future. As our internet speeds increase, the ability to track criminals becomes increasingly difficult. However, we are very fortunate that the same technology used to commit crime against users is also used to catch these criminals. The committee heard evidence from agencies that gave us significant comfort in their expertise, but we also heard tragic and heart-wrenching evidence from people who had been scammed. The one constant comment that we heard from people who gave evidence, advice on evidence and agency advice was that there is a need for intense education. I personally feel that the very nature of the advancement in technology means that consumers must become more savvy and have a responsibility to be educated. In addition, I feel that retailers have an obligation to ensure that consumers are aware of the need to install the protection that they require, such as anti-virus software, firewalls and anti-spy software.

As a result of how many complaints I have had over the years, I held forums in my electorate to educate my community on the very real issues of cybercrime, identity theft, fraud, the use of people’s computers to host and distribute of child pornography and other issues. I put out a booklet to explain, in very simple terms, just what people need to look for, the types of protection they need to have on their computers and how they can check their computers to see whether botnets are active on their home systems. Mr Deputy Speaker, you would be surprised at how many people are hosting botnets in their own homes without having any idea that they are being used to transfer information—sometimes information that is highly illegal—throughout the system. I commend this report to the House. The committee did an excellent job, and I think that, on the whole and in the main, this is a successful report.


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