Distribute.IT hacker arrest a reminder to stay alert: O'Connor

Minister for Justice, Attorney-General urge enterprises to conduct employee education about online security

The minister of justice, Brendan O’Connor, warned enterprises to remain vigilant on cybercrime, despite following the charge of a 25-year-old unemployed truck driver for alleged hacks on organisations, including the University of Sydney, Distribute.IT and NBN Co retail customer, Platform Networks.

David Cecil, who went by the screen name ‘Evil’, was charged with one count of an unauthorised change of data and 49 counts of accessing restricted data over his alleged attacks on Platform Networks.

It is alleged he is a self-taught hacker who acted alone, spending up to 20 hours a day on his home computer.

Following the Australian Federal Police (AFP)'s allegation in court that Cecil infiltrated security systems to cause financial and reputational damage, O'Connor said cybercrime was not victimless and that malicious hacking should not be tolerated in Australia.

"The AFP continues to investigate the attack on Distribute.IT, which resulted in it going into receivership,” O’Connor said in a statement.

“About 150,000 of its customers were affected and up to $5 million in damages was sustained.

“Such criminality poses a serious risk to companies and in the worst cases, can threaten security and economic prosperity.”

Attorney-General Robert McClelland said local businesses needed to take precautions, such as employee education, monitoring network traffic, completing background checks on staff, as well as strong account and password policies.

"The government is committed to supporting Australian law enforcement authorities in their work to combat this relatively new crime and to recognise the potential damage it can cause," McClelland said.

Got a security tip-off? Contact Hamish Barwick at hamish_barwick at idg.com.au

Follow Hamish Barwick on Twitter: @HamishBarwick

Follow Computerworld Australia on Twitter: @ComputerworldAU

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Tags Minister for Justice Brendan O'Connordistribute.itRobert McClellanAttorney-General Robert McClellandhackingsBrendan O'Connorcybercrime

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