The head of Australia's computer emergency response team AusCERT stood before a Federal Government Inquiry into Cybercrime today, seeking both to highlight the pressing need for a national response to the problem whilst simultaneously defending his organisation's role as the nation's first line of defence.
AusCERT general manager Graham Ingram told the Cybercrime Inquiry today that it was impossible to defend Australia's computer systems without a nationally-coordinated approach.
“I’m not here to sell you ... the latest product that’s going to fix the internet,” Mr Ingram told the Standing Committee. "What I’m going to explain to you is where all of this is heading," he said.
Mr Ingram explained to the Federal Government how cybercrime required the full support of the nation and not just law enforcement agencies “because law enforcement agencies cannot address this issue," he said.
“We need to have a national response [in] the same way as if we would have a response to a pandemic. We need everyone to know what they’re doing and have it coordinated. We don’t have that strategic approach to this problem currently," he said.
“If we can solicit the help of the ISPs, the domain name registrars, the people who run the networks, people like ourselves [and] the law enforcement agencies, what we can start to do is make a difference,” Ingram said.
Ingram compared the internet to a drug that users "simply can’t get enough of".
"This drug is something we will continue to consume and unfortunately that means that the problems that I’d like to present ... are not going to be resolved and I think that one of my concerns is in that sense where we don’t have a solution, we don’t have a way forward - it’s easier to ignore the problem and we do that at our peril,” he said to the panel.
He said that the Australian Government should look at the problem as a "public health" rather than a series of attacks against a nation state.
The panel again raised the idea that the Commonwealth might take over AusCERT.
Ingram disagreed with the idea, stating that he didn’t like the idea of bureaucrats running it.
“I would like to see the idea of a partnership with government [because] a takeover would not be a good outcome because we have twenty people who are literally geeks who do this stuff really well,” he said.
“If you replace those twenty people with twenty policy bureaucrats I don’t think you’re going to have an outcome [where] you’re going to be increasing our capacity to do the job. But again, I think that’s probably the taxpayer who needs to make that judgement in terms of investment well met."
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