Senior Australian police officer asks whether internet should be 'switched off'

An Australian senior police officer has claimed that there should be a debate as to whether the internet should be switched off.

Australia's IT News reported that Brian Hay, detective superintendent for fraud and corporate crime at the Queensland Police, told ABC's current affairs program Four Corners that he expected to see a debate on switching off the internet.

Speaking on a programme titled 'Fear in the Fast Lane', Hay said: “I expect to see at some stage in the future there will be real debate on the benefit of the internet; should we turn it off?​”

The program focused on the ease at which computers could be infected with malware and then controlled by organised criminal gangs to commit online crimes. It featured victims of phishing scams, with one claiming that he had lost over $80,000 after clicking on a link on a phishing email.

The victim, Dimitri Glianos, a Commonwealth Bank customer, told the programme: “I didn't give it all that much thought. I had to get off to a meeting ... an email was urging me to do something. It had come through the firewall, it looked legitimate. I will probably never really recover in the sense that it's now made me much more nervous.”

Patrick Gray, founder of ITRadio.com.au, suggested a solution might lie in finding a way of making such attacks unprofitable, possibly by revisiting fraud liability laws.

“Once we get a handle on the fraud a lot of our IT security problems disappear. If we can stop people exploiting personal information for financial benefit, they are not going to be motivated to research and develop the tools and techniques to collect that information,” said Gray.

“It is really about changing the economics to make it unprofitable for the bad guys. As soon as you make it unprofitable, it stops.”

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