New South Wales Govt proposes ‘Anti-hacking' legislation.

Quoting estimates of the $ 6.7 billion damage alleged by antivirus companies to have been caused by the ‘I Love You' virus, Mr Debus proposed that the New South Wales Government would create a new offence in the NSW Criminal Code of "unauthorised impairment of electronic communication".

The amendments, due to be introduced to NSW parliament before the end of the year, will specifically target "the spreading of computer viruses", according to the Attorney-General.

The offence will carry a maximum of ten years' jail; details were unavailable at the time of writing as to exactly what sort of crime constituted an offence under the terms of the proposed changes.

The Attorney General added that further penalties would apply to those who interfered with "credit card information or other data held on computer, with intention to defraud" would carry a penalty of up to 5 years. Other indictable offences, like fraud and forgery would be updated to apply to computers.

Security analysts are critical of the NSW Government's position, with some suggesting that the NSW Government's proposals come unstuck almost immediately on definitions of key elements of the amendments.

"The very nature of a computer virus is such that tracking the source of it is nigh on impossible," said Grant Bayley of security group 2600, adding, "Especially if the transmission occurred automatically and without the user's permission or intervention".

Bayley also suggested that the NSW Government is behind industry best practice with respect to what constitutes evidence in such a case. "If evidence such as a log of entry into or access to data on a computer isn't anything more than a log file on an insecure computer system, how can it be relied upon without a leap of faith by the judge/jury as to it's authenticity and accuracy?" said Bayley.

The proposals come almost a year after the completion of a government discussion paper titled the "Model Criminal Code Discussion Paper on Damage and Computer Offences", which lays out a blueprint for proposed legislation to deal with the instance of computer security breaches, virus dissemination and computer fraud.

While no legislation has been specifically enacted to deal with computer crime, various existing criminal codes are being updated or amended to account for the threat computer crime presents to the growing electronic commerce sector.

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