Conroy's filter ineffective against cyber crime, says expert

Law enforcement needs to shut down illegal sites

A cyber security expert who advises some of the largest corporations and governments in the world says that Communications Minister Stephen Conroy’s plans for an Internet filter will not have any impact on fighting cyber criminals.

Tom Reilly, CEO of cyber security company ArcSight, questioned the validity of the government’s plans to block any Web sites that appear on a blacklist if they fail to meet Australia’s classification guidelines.

“I don’t think Internet filtering is very effective in combating cyber crime,” said Reilly. “The question remains, when does filtering stop? It won’t affect cyber crime. The problem is many Web sites that are on the blacklist often don’t know that they are.”

Reilly is currently visiting Australia to raise awareness, educate and give advice to companies and the government about the heightened threat of cyber criminals to the public and private sectors. According to the company, ArcSight protects the digital assets and critical infrastructure of 27 governments around the world and 1500 enterprises (including banks and telcos).

“The real approach [for Internet protection] is to go to the source of the problem,” he said. “Parents must be given more responsibility in monitoring their child’s Internet use, law enforcement must work to shut down illegal sites, and there has to be more education on the topic.”

Reilly said that because the United States has a bill of rights, a similar filter would not be able to be introduced there. “The First Amendment that gives Americans the right to free speech would block any such filter,” said Reilly.

The ArcSight CEO also raised the issue of child pornography, one of the many issues that the government wishes to tackle with the proposed filter. “What happens when hackers post child pornography on a government Web site? We know they are capable of [doing this], is the government going to block their own Web site?”

“The proposed Internet filter and cyber crime are two unrelated issues,” said Reilly.

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