Cyber criminals are targeting Australian universities in a “vastly” expanded “internet of things” scheme, a government-appointed panel has said.
Key points:The Government is seeking a $10bn investment to help Australian universities secure their networksThe panel, chaired by the University of Technology, Sydney, says the scheme is a “game changer”It also recommends universities implement security measures and “ensure that their own networks are protected”The panel’s findings follow the announcement of a $1.1bn security fund for the Australian university sector, and also follows a warning from security experts that the sector could be at risk.
“It’s about the cyber threat,” the report said.
“We are not just talking about attacks on Australian businesses, but attacks on the networks of our universities.”
In the report, the panel’s chair, former Australian Competition and Consumer Commission chairman Rod Sims, said the scheme was a “massive threat” to the future of Australian universities.
“This is an internet of thing attack that is unprecedented in its scope,” he said.
“It has been going on for the last six months.
It’s like a nuclear bomb has been dropped on our university networks.”
The universities themselves will have to come up with a plan to deal with this attack, which is going to affect the entire system.
“He said the cyber-attacks had “nearly wiped out” Australia’s research and development, teaching and research and technical institutions.”
In a short period of time, the universities are going to be forced to take a much tougher line on their security,” Mr Sims said.
Mr Sims also recommended universities introduce “a new set of standards for the networks they operate on” to ensure their systems were secure.
He said Australian universities were also vulnerable to attacks that targeted their business information.”
If they’re not very good at securing their networks, then they’re going to have to invest in that,” he added.
Mr Sim also said universities needed to ensure that they had a “robust security architecture” to secure their information, with “robots everywhere”.”
You can’t just put your head down and go, ‘Oh, well, it’s all going to work,’ ” he said, arguing universities needed “robotic systems” that would protect their data.
The report also recommended that universities implement “robotics-based security measures”.”
We know that cyber-security is not just a matter of data security, it is also about a strong and resilient infrastructure,” Mr Sim said.
He said universities were the “only sector of the Australian economy that has been left untouched by cyber-terrorism”.”
The sector has been so badly damaged by cyber attacks that it is the only sector left untouched.
“Mr Sims said universities should also consider “robot-based data storage” as a means of protecting their networks.
The panel recommended universities invest in “robOT” security systems, which are computer systems that are equipped with cameras and sensors that can detect and respond to a threat.
It also recommended “robotion”, or the use of robots to operate equipment, as a security measure.
Mr MacKay said universities had the right to protect their systems but the government was also required to protect the Australian public.”
That’s what the universities should be doing and the Government is not doing, which means the universities and the Australian people have got to be very concerned,” he told ABC Radio.
Mr Sims is a former commissioner of the ACCC, a panel that monitors the activities of the telecommunications industry, and he said the ACCCC had found evidence of breaches of data protection laws and security in some Australian universities, including the University and College of the Northern Territory.
However, he said universities could do better to protect themselves, and that “robOTS” could help.
While the panel said it was “deeply concerned” about the scale of the attacks, it recommended universities should do more to help their students.
University of Technology (UT) vice-chancellor Peter Lewis said universities did not need to be the “cyber police”.”
These threats are not going to go away overnight, but we do need to do our part to protect our students,” he argued. AAP