The ACMA

The ACMA

ACMA fights malware on two fronts

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The Australian Communications and Media Authority today officially launched its Australian Internet Security Initiative (AISI) online portal, an important development in the global fight against malware.

The AISI portal heralds the next iteration of the ACMA’s AISI, which partners with industry to identify infected devices in Australia on the internet. 

Through the portal, the AISI provides more information than ever making it easier for internet service providers to identify which of their customers’ devices have been affected by malware.

Since 2005, the AISI has been collecting and collating information highlighting malware activity. Using that information, the ACMA provides details to the AISI’s voluntary participants—internet service providers and educational institutions—of apparent infections in their networks. In turn, internet service providers can then proactively help their customers identify and treat these infections.

Approximately 70,000 “observations” of malware are now being received and processed daily for access by the program’s 139 participants through the AISI portal. These malware observations are linked to a particular internet connection, but it’s often not straightforward matching an observation to a particular computer or other device in a home or business network.

‘The AISI portal responds to rapid growth over recent years in how Australians use the internet, and the resulting challenges about identifying malware,’ said ACMA Chairman, Chris Chapman.

ACMA research has identified that in Australia around half of all households have networks with more than five devices connecting to the internet and 56 per cent of small businesses and 74 per cent of medium-sized businesses have their own network connected to the internet.

‘Growth in home networks and business networks in Australia—and in the number of devices attached to a network, such as smartphones, tablets, game consoles—make identifying an infected device much more difficult,’ said ACMA Chairman, Chris Chapman.

‘The new AISI portal, however, is local network aware: it recognises the multiple devices connected to local networks. For the first time, it now provides internet service providers with detailed information about an infection that can determine the problem device within a home or business network,’ Mr Chapman said.

The AISI is just one of the ACMA’s suite of programs targeting or ameliorating cyber security threats. Other programs include the Phishing Alert Service and the Spam Intelligence Database (SID).

The ACMA has also launched an engaging video which explains malware and gives tips for consumers on protecting their devices online. The video was originally developed by the United States’ consumer protection agency, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), and the ACMA wishes to acknowledge the exemplary support the FTC provides it in this space (and in other co-operative initiatives).

‘Cyber-criminals aren’t going away anytime soon, so the ACMA will continue to fight malware on two fronts: educating consumers and businesses to take action to protect themselves is critical; and ensuring that programs such as the AISI identify problems as soon as they arise.’

For more information please see the Backgrounder below, or to arrange an interview, please contact:
Emma Rossi, Media Manager, (02) 9334 7719 and 0434 652 063 or media@acma.gov.au

Media release 73/2014 - 28 November

 

Backgrounder

The Australian Internet Security Initiative is the centrepiece of the ACMA’s work on internet security. The AISI receives data from 17 organisations, including Microsoft, The Shadowserver Foundation and Team Cymru (which undertake research on internet security). 

The ACMA’s Phishing Alert Service identifies phishing messages which are a form of spam that steals users’ identities and money. Phishing messages commonly masquerade as coming from financial institutions, directing participants to enter details on a fake web page. Since January 2014, nearly 31,100 reports of phishing have been provided to participants in this program. 

The ACMA’s spam compliance program identifies email and SMS malware. It is supported by SID. SID enables the ACMA to manage the very large number of reports that it receives each month. The ACMA also provides spam-related intelligence to the Federal Police and the Tax Office. Government agencies responsible for countering spam in the Netherlands, Canada and New Zealand have entered into licensing arrangements with the ACMA to initially replicate SID and then share their enhancements to the software.

The AISI and the Communications Alliance iCode

In August 2014, the Communications Alliance published the iCode (C650:2014) (replacing a 2010 version developed by the Internet Industry Association). The iCode aims to promote a security culture in the internet industry by reducing the number of compromised computers in Australia. The iCode is designed to provide a consistent approach for Australian ISPs to help inform, educate and protect their customers against cyber security risks. The iCode encourages all Australian ISPs to participate in the AISI.

Last updated: 13 May 2016

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