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  • Writer's pictureHannah Phillips

Cyber-Security versus Terrorism: A Wicked Choice

The ABC ran a story yesterday that involved and interview by Zoe Daniels with the principal of Crowdstrike, Dmitri Alperovitch.

Crowdstrike is the world’s leading cybersecurity bodyguard and Telstra has just bought a substantial equity share in the company.

It is currently advising a number of big Australian corporates.

As the ABC programme showed there are a number of actors trying hack into Australian systems.

“These are the actors who we see in Australia,” Alperovitch says, scrolling through pages of threatening-looking cartoon faces.

“You can see here these are criminal groups that we call spiders”.

“These are Chinese groups that we call pandas, and this is an Indian actor that we call Tiger. Bear is Russian Government and jackals are hacktivist groups.”

Ironically Mr Alperovitch was born and educated in Russia which probably precludes him from having a conversation with the Trump administration.

However it didn’t preclude him from last year being named one of Politico’s top 50 political thinkers.

He and Crowdstrike identified Russian hackers as the culprits behind the attack on the Democratic National Committee, which triggered continuing suspicion about Russian meddling in the US election.

“That’s something we’ll probably see a lot more of going forward because the reality is it’s very cheap to do,” he says.

Mr Alperovitch believes Australia is likely to come under cyber-attack because it is an ally of the US.

“I think as a great ally of the United States you are vulnerable because organisations out there that want to do us harm may target our allies to sow discord or show that they can hit at someone without hitting necessarily at the United States,” Mr Alperovitch says.

On Friday the Prime Minister and Attorney General George Brandis announced a new set of anti-encryption laws.

In the Conversation later that day David Glance Director of the Centre of Software Practice at the University of Western Australia pointed out that implementation of the new laws would weaken cyber-security protection.

“Cybersecurity is always a trade-off. Weakening security in one area to protect against terrorist attacks on the ground could increase the risk of cyberattacks by terrorists and hostile nations, and increase the likelihood of cybercrime,” he says.

“The Australian government, like other nations, has a Cyber Security Strategy that lays out how it aims to protect the country, its critical infrastructure and its population.

Strong encryption and the ability to communicate securely is a fundamental part of this strategy.

Undermining this capability by making all communications open to a large number of people and organisations within the government significantly increases the risks of compromise by hostile actors like foreign nation states and organised criminals.

These risks are not being discussed as part of the fight against terrorism but are real nonetheless.”

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