Collaboration is Key to Keeping Australians Safe Online

| June 18, 2008

As Web 2.0 technologies and the threat landscape continue to evolve, it’s now more important than ever that both private and public sectors join forces.

Last week, I participated in the Over the Horizon Visionary forum which was held as part of National E-security Awareness Week. The forum was attended by a number of industry representatives from across Australia and aimed to promote discussion on the government’s future e-security policies. One of the discussion groups at the forum focused on how the public and private sectors can partner to better educate the public on safe Internet practices.

Many in the group, including myself, agree that there needs to be a working partnership between the public and private sector to educate and equip Australian PC users.  By working in collaboration and building a strategy around education, the public and private sector can help make the Internet a positive and safe place to learn, communicate, and socialise.

National E-security Awareness Week and its initiatives – such as the Over the Horizon forum – are a step forward in creating the fundamental foundation required to equip and educate Australian PC users about the online world and to build confidence in a connected world.

As Web 2.0 technologies change the way we interact online and the threat landscape continues to evolve, it is more important now than ever before that both the private and public sector join forces. The online world is touching our lives in very different ways than we expected just a few short years ago. Today we are more influenced by connectivity and more dependent on digital content than was ever thought possible.

We’re living in an era of more collaboration and online interactions, with social media such as social networking, wikis, podcasts, blogs, RSS feeds etc.  All this collaboration and shared interaction is truly a great opportunity.  However the nature of doing so opens us all up to a variety of potential security risks that we may not be aware of.

Botnets, phishing, pharming, and other online identity threats are taking the spotlight away from the viruses and hackers of yesterday.  A new era of threats have emerged, one characterised by spyware, Internet fraud, and spam.

Cyber criminals are becoming more organised, more professional and are making fraud their full-time job.  These attackers are no longer disorganised hacker stereotypes from the past looking for fame and glory – they’re after money and their attacks are much more sophisticated.

According to Symantec’s latest Security Threat Report volume 13, which analyses the Internet threat landscape, attackers are targeting confidential end user information that can be fraudulently used for financial gain. In the last half of 2007, threats to confidential information made up 68 percent of the top 50 malicious code samples causing potential infections; this is an increase over the 65 percent reported in the first half of 2007 and the 53 percent from the same period in 2006. In addition, home users are the targets of 95 percent of these targeted attacks.

With the growing prevalence of these threats, it is critical that we explore the issues and challenges associated with e-security. From our discussions last week, it was very clear that we can only succeed in educating and protecting users online if the public and private sector collaborate and work together to find ways to achieve this common goal.

Craig Scroggie is the vice president and managing director of Symantec in Australia and New Zealand.  

Symantec is an official partner of National E-security Awareness Week.


Visit for details and step by step information on e-security.