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Internet Security in Australia: Initiatives and Resources

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shutterstock_197187698As consumers and businesses become more reliant on the Internet, it’s vital that security measures are maintained and kept up-to-date. The Australian government has undertaken a number of initiatives, and provided various publications to encourage Internet security.

These are some of the top cyber security initiatives that are underway in Australia, along with resources that have been made available for consumers, business, and other entities.

The Australian Internet Security Initiative

The Australian Internet Security Initiative (AISI) was developed by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) to combat computer attacks. These attacks can occur when malicious software is installed, and the programs are used to control the computer and to conduct illegal or damaging acts without the user’s awareness.

The AISI collects data on computers that demonstrate signs of malicious attacks, and uses this data to provide updates and reports to ISPs, which then informs the customers who have been subject to the attack.

While the initial trials that were conducted in 2005 involved only 6 major Australian ISPs, today 139 participate in the initiative. These 139 ISPs are said to account for more than 90% of all residential users in the country. The AISI will continue to add to its membership as the program expands. Any ISP can contact the ACMA to participate in the AISI, and participation is free.

Stay Smart Online

Stay Smart Online (SSO) is another government initiative. Stay Smart Online is being overseen by the Department of Communications (DOC), though other agencies collaborate with the DOC. This educational initiative revolves around the SSO website, which contains useful information on Internet security for consumers. Users can learn about safeguarding their financial and personal information online, and how to protect their data against attacks and scams.

Cybersmart, Budd:e, and Think You Know

Other educational programs include Cybersmart, Budd:e, and Think You Know.

shutterstock_175764161Cybersmart is directed at younger children, parents, teachers, and library staff. The website has ideas for activities for teaching children and teens about cyber security, as well as a range of informational resources for parents and teachers. Cybersmart also runs an outreach program, which offers training sessions in the form of webinars and face-to-face presentations.

Budd:e offers self-guided, fun modules for primary school and secondary school kids. There are educational modules, videos, and other resources that guide users on how to stay safe online.

ThinkUKnow is another Internet safety program that provides interactive training to children, parents, carers, and teachers. The program users accredited trainers to deliver the training. The program was developed by the Australian Federal Police and Microsoft.

CERT Australia

CERT Australia is the country’s first national computer emergency response team. It acts as the first point of contact for internet security incidents that affect local networks. It is part of the Federal Attorney-General’s Department, with offices in Canberra and Brisbane.

CERT also works with agencies such as the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) and the Australian Federal Police to improve computer emergency responses. It works with more than 500 businesses to improve security for industries such as energy, water, transport, and banking.

By providing advice on vulnerabilities and threats, CERT helps businesses and individuals protect themselves against threats and recover more quickly from attacks.

OnSecure

OnSecure is an initiative run by the Department of Defence. Eligible users can sign up for an account that grants access to useful information and resources on internet and informational security. Eligibility is restricted to those working in the public service, intelligence agencies, and defence forces. Contractors and other collaborators can also gain access to OnSecure.

Scamwatch

Scamwatch is a free informational portal for businesses and consumers. It provides information and useful tips on how to avoid scams, and how to report these to the appropriate agencies. The types of scams covered on the portal include banking and finance scams, health and medical scams, and identity theft.

Trusted information sharing network

The Trusted Information Sharing Network (TISN) for Critical Infrastructure Resilience offers free information and guides, and the Network holds events to share vital information on security issues. Participants are typically government and business, and the TISN operates like a forum or advisory body with members and representations across sectors and states/territories. There are sector groups, expert advisory groups, forums, and communities of interest.

Other guides and publications

Other useful guides and publications for businesses and consumers include the following:

  • The AMCA’s spam and e-security website– This site contains valuable information on complying with spam legislation, and is designed for both consumers and businesses. The site has tips on reducing spam, improving e-security, and avoiding email scams. It also offers useful information on making spam-related complaints.
  • Protecting Yourself Online– This accessible publication is hosted by the Attorney-General’s Department. It contains easy-to-read guidelines from a range of government departments and agencies, and these guidelines are directed at everyday consumers and households. Topics covered include spam, scams, banking, and online bullying.
  • The Easy Guide to Socialising Online– This guide was designed for the age of social media, and it contains useful information on keeping safe when using social media to connect with others.
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