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Australia: Web Of Silence Over Cyber Saboteurs.

CYBER saboteurs have hacked into a third of Australian businesses in the past year, but only 40 percent of companies notified police of the intrusions.

Government agency surveys showed most cyber attacks came from outside the targeted companies rather than from disgruntled employees. Federal Justice Minister Amanda Vanstone warned authorities and the community not to view hackers as nerdy, pre-pubescent teens with youthful ideals. "Increasingly, organisations around the world are experiencing attacks on their computer systems designed to financially benefit the perpetrator," Senator Vanstone said. "This is a crime in the old-fashioned sense in that the motivation is greed."

As a response to the alarming trend, Senator Vanstone said the Federal Government was reviewing a proposed framework to protect national information infrastructures.

Areas including telecommunications, banking and finance, transport and distribution, energy and utilities, information services, defence and emergency services would be part of the review.

Senator Vanstone was in Brisbane yesterday for a conference on computer infrastructure security. She said the Government was interested in a partnership with business to combat the growing problem of electronic crime. She was "disturbed" by the report that 42 percent of business did not report cyber intrusion. "We need business to report offences and we want to work co-operatively with the private sector in expanding expertise to help prevent cyber attacks," she said. "We must treat these matters seriously and seek to prosecute offenders rather than deal with the matter internally for fear of adverse publicity."

Queensland Chamber of Commerce e-Business manager Graeme Allen said the weak link in security for many companies was the average server on their office computer.

Mr Allen said while larger companies had the financial resources to produce their own specialist web host sites on the premises, smaller business had to use professional web hosts. Mr Allen said businesses should be aware of their hosts and check the site was "hacker safe". He knew no reason why companies would not report a cyber intrusion to police.

Brisbane information security expert Bill Caelli called on the Government to place legislative requirements on private companies to protect themselves against cyber terrorists.

Professor Caelli's conference paper said the biggest threat to Australia's security was through its computer systems. He predicted warfare in the next millennium would be comprised of attacks on the nation's banking and private industry systems. "National wealth now lies in the information of a nation," Professor Caelli said.

Computer users were also warned to watch out for a file-killing virus more resilient than the Melissa and Chernobyl viruses that struck earlier this year.

The FBI is trying to track down the author of Worm.Explore.Zip which targets computers using Microsoft Windows.

The virus arrives in a e-mail as a reply from an acquaintance. It invites the recipient to open an attached file that will unleash a two-pronged attack, sending a copy of itself to the address of any arriving e-mail and destroying files on the user's machine.

BY Sara Bradford.

Infowar.Com, Ltd.
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