ASIO briefs industry to guard against cyber terrorism

The Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) met with key representatives of Australia's telecommunications, electricity, banking, finance and air traffic control industries Wednesday to examine potential security threats to information systems in the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks.

For the first time a special meeting of the Critical Infrastructure Protection Group which covers the Defence Signals Directorate and other government agencies included representatives from the private sector.

ASIO has undertaken a series of threat assessments in these industries post-September 11 and called the meeting to brief industry leaders.

This is in addition to a security review being undertaken by the Federal Government which is expected to be handed down in coming weeks.

As reported previously in CW (October 29, 2001 p5) the Government is considering the introduction of the IT equivalent of a national coast guard.

Attorney General Daryl Williams said Wednesday's meeting with the private sector reflects the changed security environment since the terrorist attacks in the US and aims to ensure Australia has an IT security coalition of government and private sector representatives.

Williams said this is to "ensure we can work together to protect what is vital to our national economy and security".

Earlier Wednesday Prime Minister John Howard called on business leaders to participate in the protection of Australia's national infrastructure and announced that a special Leaders Summit on Transnational Crime and Terrorism will be held in the New Year if the government is re-elected on Saturday.

Howard proposed a joint government and business task force to protect Australia against cyber terrorism.

As reported previously in Computerworld, the Federal Government is considering the establishment of a National Emergency Technology Guard to mobilise the IT community during a crisis.

A similar body called NETGuard is being canvassed in the US.

A spokesman for the Attorney General would not reveal the identity of private sector representatives at the meeting claiming the information was "confidential".

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