Kokoda: Regulation essential to curb "criminal" ISPs

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Kokoda: Regulation essential to curb "criminal" ISPs
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Calls for government intervention in the wake of imminent cyber war.

The Director of the Kokoda Foundation has stepped up calls for government regulation of the internet industry, to counter what he describes as "criminal" elements within the ISP community.

An author of the Kokoda Foundation’s report Optimising Australia's Response to the Cyber Challenge, the foundation's director John Blackburn has called for the voluntary ISP code of practice (the icode) to be made law.

Speaking at last week’s Network Centric Warfare 2011 conference in Canberra, Blackburn warned that the coming national broadband network posed a risk as new source for compromising unprotected devices and networks in Australia.

Blackburn said NBN management had not expressed interest in cyber warfare risks and deferred responsibility to retail ISPs. But this, in his opinion, failed to consider the issue of corruption.

“There’s a percentage of ISPs that are corrupt who deal with crime," he said. "We know about that. So we are going to allow a voluntary code of conduct from ISPs to deal with security? Bullshit,” Blackburn said.

“We know there’s a percentage out there that are criminals. And we are not going to mandate behaviour and we’re going to rely on a voluntary code of conduct? This is where we have to get real about the seriousness of this problem and do something about it.”

A certain portion of ISPs could not be trusted to follow a voluntary code, he said.

“Many companies will not adopt standards or practices if they cannot see any cost or competitive advantage in doing so," he said.

"We know a certain percentage of ISPs will not do it because they are corrupt,” he told iTnews.

In February IIA chief Peter Coroneo dismissed the Kokoda Foundation’s report as "flawed".

"We appreciate the Kokoda Foundation's endorsement of our work, but because something happens to be good, does not mean it should be made mandatory," Coroneos said.

He said Kokoda's recommendation was premature and misunderstood the design of the industry code.

"There are cogent reasons why we did not favour legislation. When you codify something in legislation, you tend to freeze it in time," he said at the time. "This code, like the internet itself, is designed to be adaptable to changing conditions."

ISPs themselves have a self-interest in complying because they will want to protect their networks, he said.

Blackburn said he and fellow author Garry Water plan to write monthly articles in Australian Defence Business Review and run a series of lectures around the country to highlight their concerns about how unprepared Australians were to the coming cyber challenge.

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