September 2012 Newsletter

New law to control cyber data

NEW laws will allow authorities to collect and monitor Australians’ internet records, including their web-browsing history, social media activity and emails. But the laws, which will specifically target suspected cyber criminals, do not go as far as separate proposed laws designed to retain every Australian internet user’s internet history for two years in the name of national security.
Under the laws passed yesterday, Australian state and federal police will have the power to compel telcos and internet service providers to retain the internet records of people suspected of cyber-based crimes, including fraud and child pornography. Only those records made after the request will be retained, but law enforcement agencies will be prevented from seeing the information until they have secured a warrant

The long shadow of cyber crime(Video)

It is believed that while some telcos and internet service providers keep data for up to a week, others routinely delete users’ data daily, frustrating the ability of authorities to gather evidence against suspects.

Attorney-General Nicola Roxon said the laws would help police track cyber criminals globally and give authorities the power to find people engaged in forgery, fraud, child pornography and infringement of copyright and intellectual property. They also will allow Australia to join the Council of Europe Convention on Cybercrime, which has 34 members. ”Cyber crime is a growing threat that touches all aspects of modern life,” Ms Roxon said. ”It poses complex policy and law enforcement challenges, partly due to the transnational nature of the internet.” But Greens communications spokesman Scott Ludlam said the laws went further than the European convention, and that the government had failed to explain why the far-reaching powers were necessary. The European convention states that the treaty is not focused on data retention but on targeting law enforcement.
Australia’s new laws mean information can be kept at least until police get a warrant. Senator Ludlam was particularly concerned the laws would allow data that implicates Australians in crimes that carry penalties of three years or more – including the death penalty – to be collected and analysed. ”The European Treaty doesn’t require ongoing collection and retention of communications, but the Australian bill does,” he said in a statement. ”It also leaves the door open for Australia to assist in prosecutions, which could lead to the death penalty overseas.” The deadline for submissions to a parliamentary inquiry into the separate proposed national security laws closed on Monday and a parliamentary committee will report on the issue at a date to be decided. Those proposals would allow the telephone and internet data of every Australian to be retained for up to two years and intelligence agencies would be given increased access to social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter.

How do you choose an ISP for your small business?

Internode, Westnet and iiNet rank among the top three ISPs for businesses. But what makes a good ISP for your business?

Roy Morgan research released the results of a survey today saying that Internode, Westnet and iiNET were the top three ISPs when business customers were asked about satisfaction levels with with their Fixed Internet service. 87% of their business customers said that they were being very or fairly satisfied.

All three of those ISPs are owned by the same company so it’s not surprising that they all rated at similar levels.

Fewer than two-thirds of Optus and Telstra customers said the same. We’re not statisticians but the differences are quite large and we’d expect them to be statistically significant.

So what makes a good ISP? Is it just about price or is there more to it?

We’d suggest that there are three main factors in play.

1. Price

Price is important but it’s not everything. We’d suggest setting a budget for your Internet communications (both fixed and mobile if you need both) and working to that budget.

The costs will be dictated by two main criteria – speed and traffic allowances. It’s tough to gauge what you’ll need without some history but it’s often easier to upgrade a plan than downgrade. So, we’d suggest starting with the lowest speeds and traffic allowance plan you think you can live with, monitor things closely and then upgrading if needed.

2. Performance

This is the tricky one. If you work with large files that you need to send to clients then a faster connection is a good thing. There’s not much that’s more frustrating than watching a progress meter slowly working upwards.

But if all you do is a little bit of web browsing and some email then you may be able to contain costs by starting slower.

3. Support

For a business without an IT department this is crucial. Visit online forums (we like Whirlpool for this ) and look at the comments being made about support for different ISPs.

September Specials

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