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Hacking Issues need to be put ito perspective

December 1998 The Internet Society of New Zealand is seeking to have the recent media focus on "hacking" (more correctly called "cracking") of Internet Providers put into perspective.

Chair Jim Higgins said that "while vandalism of computers is a
serious problem, there is no reason for people to assume that there is
a widespread problem with the Internet in New Zealand." "It is possible
for Internet site operators to provide a high level of security and to
protect themselves by taking sensible backup."
"While it is true that no organisation can guarantee 100% invincible
computer security it is possible to make life difficult enough for
crackers that the risk is greatly reduced. We must remember that
likewise no bank is immune from being robbed, but this doesn’t mean we
should worry about using banks."
In terms of electronic commerce we have never heard a report of
credit card details being stolen from a secure Internet server – even
if this should happen it is the credit card company, not the customer,
who carries the risk and burden of proof of purchase" Mr Higgins said.
"It has become obvious that there is great confusion over whether
the current law allows prosecutions for "cracking". The Minister of
Justice, the Rt Hon Doug Graham, in a recent press statement said that
he considered that section 298 (4) of the Crimes Act which covers
damage to ‘property not otherwise covered in the Crimes Act’ should be
able to be used to prosecute ‘crackers’. However, it has become clear
over the past ten years that the Act is woefully short on sanctions
against the activities of crackers."
ISOCNZ is currently consulting with the wider Internet community to
establish the specific needs from any new legislation. ISOCNZ then
intends to meet with the Ministers of Justice and Information
Technology to convey the concerns.
One approach is for the government to resurrect the ‘hacking’
provisions of the 1988 Crimes Act Amendment Bill which provided for the
criminalisation of computer vandalism. "Unfortunately the bill was
shelved at the time and New Zealand is still without sanctions to
protect the public against this type of
activity, said Mr Higgins.
"However, we must not react in a knee jerk fashion to the recent
events. Any new laws must be robust enough to keep pace with the
increasingly innovative technology we have, and a bad law can be worse
than no law at all." concluded Mr Higgins.
© 1998 The Internet Society of New Zealand

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