Crime expert backs calls for ‘licence to compute’

By | August 30, 2009

Crime expert backs calls for licence to compute

Australia’s leading criminologist thinks online scams have escalated to such a point that first-time users of computers should have to earn a licence to surf the web.

Russel Smith, principal criminologist at the Australian Institute of Criminology said the concept of a “computer drivers licence” should be taken seriously as an option for combating internet-related crime.

“There’s been some discussion in Europe about the use of what’s called a computer drivers licence – where you have a standard set of skills people should learn before they start using computers,” Dr Smith told iTnews.

“At the moment we have drivers licences for cars, and cars are very dangerous machines. Computers are also quite dangerous in the way that they can make people vulnerable to fraud.

“In the future we might want to think about whether it’s necessary there be some sort of compulsory education of people before they start using computers,” he said.

The Australian Computer Society launched computer driver’s licences in 1999. It aimed to give users a basic level of competency before they started using PCs. But the growth in cybercrime has led to IT security experts such as Eugene Kaspersky to call for more formalised recognition of a user’s identity so they can travel the net safely.

Last week Dr Smith sat in front of a Federal Government Inquiry into cyber crime and advised Australia’s senior politicians on initiatives in train to fight cybercrime.

He said that education was secondary to better technology solutions.

“I think at the starting point of it you need manufacturers of both hardware and software to devise technology that makes it difficult or impossible for people to be defrauded,” Dr Smith said.

via Crime expert backs calls for ‘licence to compute’ – Security – Technology – News – iTnews.com.au.

This is one of the absolute worst ideas ever. Shout this down. Too much potential for abuse, taxation, additional fraud, etc.

2 thoughts on “Crime expert backs calls for ‘licence to compute’

  1. Lindsey

    I don’t know, I think it makes sense. So many people screw up their own computers by their own idiot behavior, and then they go and blame the technology… If someone would teach them how to browse the web safely, and about different precautions they could take, it would probably save them a great deal of headaches (and money) in the future.

    Even just simple things, that many people don’t think about– paying attention to the URL to make sure you’re not being scammed, only downloading things from secure/trusted websites, not clicking tempting banner ads, double-checking the validity of programs and websites before using/downloading them, understanding spyware and how to use anti-spyware software– I know a lot of people could benefit from that.

    It wouldn’t have to be a full-fledged license thing. Just a short, one-time course/test, before you purchase your computer, so you don’t end up destroying it in the first two weeks. I know there are probably systems like this out there, but they’re fully voluntary– and the problem is, most people are too (I don’t want to say stupid) to realize that they need the instruction. So it might not be a bad idea to force it into their heads.

    For example, my dad’s been through two desktops (in a way three, because he recently used system recovery to totally reboot his latest) in the time I’ve had one laptop. His always had mysterious startup spyware programs that we couldn’t get rid of, everything ran slowly, it was awful (he’s getting better, though…). My computer, on the other hand, runs pretty much as well as it did when I first got it. Why? Because I understand how to surf safely. So even after 4 years, I’ve never had any real problems.

    Think of all the money that could be saved on technology help line calls, on buying new hardware!

    1. Xeno Post author

      I agree that people should learn as much as they can and get certified, but not that anyone has the authority to restrict Internet access of people who are still learning. No one has the authority. Besides, the net is the best way to learn about the net. Should people not be allowed to speak until educated? Or not be allowed to reproduce until they have a parenting license? … Great ideas, idealistically, but these views carry a dangerous implicit belief that there is one “correct” way.

      I also agree with you about computer safety. See this SANS list of the top 20 vulnerabilities. This is essential to save yourself and others a lot of wasted time and trouble, and perhaps money too.

      Tips for Windows users: Use really long random passwords, Anti-virus software (some free) and keep it updated, Spyware remover, Firewall properly configured (some free, but test it), Whole disk encryption in case your laptop is stolen, learn to use Google to research potential scams, regular data back up, use Firefox with NoScript and Adblock Plus and Web of Trust add-ins, keep your OS up to date with security patches, take time to go over your bank and credit card statements each month, only buy from reputable vendors on line and use PayPal instead of a credit card when you can. This is just a start to greatly improve your odds. You could do all of this and still get toasted.

      I’d like it if someone shut down the top 100 spammers and also the physical junk mail mailers. In my view, ads should be opt-in only.

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