Revelations by US, UK and Dutch authorities of the targeting of critical cyber systems and infrastructure by foreign nation state actors demonstrates the need for robust cybersecurity at all levels, warned Digital Rights Watch today.

“This is a clear example of the importance of protecting security online. The diversity of these attacks shows that online, anyone can become the victim of highly sophisticated hackers. We must ensure that government policy is designed to strengthen, not weaken, these protections,” said Digital Rights Watch Chair Tim Singleton Norton.

Digital Rights Watch is warning that the proposed Telecommunications and Other Legislation Amendment (Assistance and Access) Bill 2018 could further put individuals, organisations and even national interests at risk.

“The Government’s proposed legislation would require tech companies to develop methods to undermine or circumvent their own digital security measures – a very dangerous exercise when cyber threats like these are a very real possibility.”

“If backdoors or keys are created, even for the legitimate use of law enforcement, we must acknowledge that these may fall into the wrong hands and be used against us. We have seen this occur before, when the US Government lost control of the Eternal Blue vulnerability, leading to the worldwide WannaCry and Petya attacks which cost individuals and businesses billions of dollars.”

“It is precisely because of cyber attacks like those witnessed today that we must protect encryption protocols, not tear them down. Everyone from small businesses to NGOs to financial institutions and social media platforms must be able to implement the strongest security protections possible.”

“Protecting Australians in cyberspace is incredibly important, and any attempts to undermine that protection should be treated with extreme caution. This is why the Government’s rushed process over the Assistance and Access Bill is so concerning, and why we must ensure that the Morrison Government stop and listen to the experts about how to keep Australians safe online,” he concluded.