Jan 24, 2013

Eleven reasons to be sceptical of warnings of cyber warfare

A new "Cyber Security Centre"? Do we really need it? Crikey's Canberra correspondent details why you shouldn't believe the hype on the risks of cyber warfare and cybercrime.

Bernard Keane — Politics editor

Bernard Keane

Politics editor

Cyber warfare and cybersecurity are the most heavily hyped threats in public policy since the war on terror began.

This morning, Prime Minister Julia Gillard toured the Cyber Security Operations Centre in Canberra to show off the new “Australian Cyber Security Centre” she is establishing. In the last two years, the war to shore up cybersecurity has been the basis for numerous policies, strategies and white papers across the world, and even an extension of the ANZUS alliance. Moreover, the media displays no scepticism in its reporting of claims about cyber attacks. Cybersecurity is also a huge industry. According to two of the best US researchers on the issue, Jerry Brito and Tate Watkins:

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14 thoughts on “Eleven reasons to be sceptical of warnings of cyber warfare

  1. Simon Mansfield

    Take a look at the Crikey server’s secure and message logs – they will be filled with break in attempts from China. Nowadays 99% of brute force attacks come from China. To the point where it’s probably a good idea to simply block China IPs completely and leave the Middle Kingdom behind the firewall.

  2. Gail

    This release from the PMs office today is claiming 5.4 million Australians “fell victim to” cyber crime in 2012 at an estimated cost of $1.65 billion. Where do these figures come from? If 80% of Australian adults have internet access and there are around 11 million homes with internet connections, unless my maths is failing me, those 5.4 million victims would be between 30% and 50% of the internet using adult population. I simply don’t believe it….sorry!!

    No definition of what cyber crime is comprised of – data leaks, failed corporate security or counting of IP numbers from spam operators? Could be anything really.

    Release is here

    I think there may be a few too many external consultants with shiny power point presentations around and not enough real research or use of ACMA’s own published data.

    ACMA reports with lots of stats (and they publish heaps of information) are here

  3. Harry Rogers


    “Nowadays 99% of brute force attacks come from China.”

    Some evidence please.

  4. Mike Flanagan

    Google ‘CIA” Harry

  5. john2066

    yep, its all bullshit, designed to hype up the security services budget. When there is an actual cybersecurity intrusion, they do nothing, and never prosecute anyone. Bit like the rubbish overpriced ‘report’ Robert Cornall and Rufus Black did on ASIO, just lots of pompous windbaggery pumping up threats to keep the well paid jobs coming.

  6. john2066

    This national security rot is all rubbish!

  7. Simon Mansfield

    Easy Harry – look at any secure log file – it’s filled with brute force attacks from China. servers will show that – especially given its a subscription service with passwords involved. On our servers we ignore most attacks – except when they overload SSH and make our own access slow – then you go in find the offending IP and block it. Boring stuff. But almost in every case it’s some twerp out of China.

  8. Ramsay Smith

    The threat is real – speak to any Whitehat hacker, and they will explain how incredibly easy it is to break into systems, and leave absolutely no evidence that you have done so. Most of the reported instances are where hackers have made mistakes, or been sloppy – and any specialist in this field will state that protection is a moving target – once you block and fix an access method, they simply try another route.

  9. alistairj

    3.2 BILLION Defence wants? that’s a lot of infrastructure that the citizenry wont get- this whole issue smacks of Y2K and the chicken little cry that made some glib geeks a lot of money, for no good reason. Cheap encyrption exists for ultra sensitive data- the rest should take its chances- opaque fear porn is the staple of too much of our public policy.

  10. Harry Rogers

    Ignoring hyperbole (typically used in politic relating to security) AlertLogic in 2012 identified the source (IP address) of attacks as spread over 165 countries USA 33%,China 16%,Germany 3%, India Korea and Russia 8%.

    If you are going to argue against these pathetice laws get some facts to back up your statements.

    Some more facts tell me how many times any attack has succeded against 256 bit encryption??

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