IT 'national guard' to fight cyberterrorism

As part of a national security review in the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks the Australian Government is considering the introduction of the IT equivalent of a national coast guard.

The Federal Government is considering the establishment of a National Emergency Technology Guard as part of a broad security review to be handed down on October 31.

A spokeswoman for the Attorney General Daryl Williams, said it is still under review and "we can't rule anything out until we know what the implications are".

The guard would be established to protect Australia's national information infrastructure and would involve mobilising the IT community during a crisis.

Only last week the US Government proposed establishing NETGuard which would include IT professionals from leading companies to stand ready with designated computer equipment, satellite dishes, wireless communicators and other equipment.

However, IT security professionals in Australia told Computerworld such an organisation would not work and pointed to the e-security co-ordination group as an example.

Chaired by the National Office for the Information Economy (NOIE), IT security professionals said the group, which is charged with developing national e-security initiatives, has basically "died" in the past three months.

The joint Government and private sector initiative has not met for several months and IT professionals involved in the group said it has been destroyed by competing interests.

"So, how could we have a national guard to respond to a crisis when companies will look after their customers before they look after the national infrastructure," sources said.

Unisys e-security architecture director, Ajoy Ghosh, said the US has a much stronger sense of patriotism and is willing to do what's necessary for "king and country" which is very different to Australia.

However, CEO of the Institute of Online Security (IOS), Glenn Floyd, applauded the establishment of an emergency technology guard, claiming "the most vulnerable area existing now is our reliance on technology".

Floyd said a global disaster recovery plan must be developed to prepare for the next terrorist onslaught and Australia's involvement should be led by NOIE CEO John Rimmer.

"The vilest of evil minds are now at work developing anthrax, sarin, technoanthrax, and many other exotic calamitous threats and they will unleash them; the level of hatred in the world at the present time is acute, there are no rules any more," he said.

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