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Wednesday, 3 December 2003
Page: 23751

Mr Danby asked the Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts, upon notice, on 14 October 2003:

(1) Further to the answer to question No. 2373, is he aware of reports of a `systematic information warfare campaign' by Chinese government authorities on Taiwanese private companies and Taiwanese governmental authorities in an effort to paralyse the nation's computer systems.

(2) Is he aware of reports in Ha'aretz of 5 October 2003 that Iranian hackers have attempted to disrupt Israeli electricity supplies by hacking into the Israel Electric Corporation's computers.

(3) What action is the Government taking to ensure that Australia is not subject to similar cyber attacks.

Mr Williams (Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts) —The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1) I am aware of reports in the Taipei Times.

(2) I am aware of the report in Ha'aretz.

(3) The Australian Government is working to protect the National Information Infrastructure on a number of levels, including:

The 2002-03 budget provided funding of $24.9 million over four years for the E-Security National Agenda. This allocation enhances the capability of agencies within the Attorney-General's, Defence and Communications, Information Technology and the Arts portfolios to protect Australia's critical infrastructure.

The Australian Government has established the Trusted Information Sharing Network (TISN) to allow the owners and operators of national critical infrastructure to exchange information on security-related matters with the relevant government officials. The Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts provides support to the Communications Sector Infrastructure Assurance Advisory Group.

Since May 2003, a free national alerts scheme sponsored by the Australian Government and operated by AusCERT is providing early warning of threats and vulnerabilities to computer systems underpinning our essential services. This information allows those responsible to take appropriate security measures as early as possible after any threats are identified.

The Australian High Tech Crime Centre (AHTCC) was created with the agreement of the Australian Government Minister for Justice and Customs, Senator the Hon. Chris Ellison and all state and territory Police Ministers in November 2002. The AHTCC is being funded and staffed by the Australian Government and the states and territories.