Police hope Optus whistle blow sets new trend

Police hope Optus whistle blow sets new trend

By Stuart Finlayson

The New South Wales Police fraud squad is optimistic that the reporting by Optus of a hacker on its Optus ISP network and subsequent fine for the person responsible will prove to be a watershed in the reporting of such instances of hacking by corporations.

In what was the first such penalty to be meted out by the courts for hacking in NSW, Stephen Craig Dendtler was fined $4,000 for trespassing on the Optus ISP network, following an appeal by NSW Police against his original suspended sentence.

NSW fraud squad commander, Detective Superintendent Megan McGowan said she hoped that the successful prosecution, coupled with the fact that Optus has actually moved up from third largest to second largest Australian ISP since the disclosure, would prompt other corporations to follow suit.

"Corporations have been reluctant in the past to divulge such information as they have been concerned about damage to their brand, reputation or share price. Another reason for failure to report such instances is failure to detect it. Sometimes it's us who tell organisations they've been hacked and they had no idea, although if you'd asked them a week before, they'd tell you how fabulous their security is."

DS McGowan added that she felt it was important that competitive organisations cooperated with each other on the issue of IT security, and also stressed that individual organisations ensure they have adequately trained staff to plug any holes in their security system and detect breaches when they are committed.

"We try to get organisations to work in a co-operative way on this and I think if more organisations do that, we will see a far greater rate of reporting and detecting fraudulent behaviour.

"Also, with the huge downturn we have had in industry, with lots of layoffs, we have seen staff levels being stripped down to the bare bones. Now obviously, if you haven't got a team of people constantly looking for vulnerabilities in your system, the chances of you being hacked increase and the chances of you detecting it decrease."

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