AUSTRALIANS would be forced to install anti-virus and firewall software on their computers before being allowed to connect to the internet under a new plan to fight cyber crime.
And if their computer did get infected, internet service providers like Telstra and Optus could cut off their connection until the problem was resolved.
Those are two of the recommendations to come from a year-long inquiry into cyber crime by the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Communications.
Results of the inquiry, titled Hackers, Fraudsters and Botnets: Tackling the Problem of Cyber Crime, were released last night in a 260-page report.
In her foreword, committee chair Belinda Neal said cyber crime had turned into a "sophisticated underground economy".
"In the past decade, cyber crime has grown from the nuisance of the cyber smart hacker into an organised transnational crime committed for vast profit and often with devastating consequences for its victims," Ms Neal said.
It also heard the problem was costing Australian businesses as much as $649 million a year.During its inquiry the committee heard a growing number of Australians were being targeted by cyber criminals and that increasing internet speeds were likely to make the situation worse.
The committee looked at several different examples of cyber crime, including hacking, phishing, malware and botnets.
Among its final 34 recommendations were:
— The creation of an around-the-clock cyber crime helpline.
— Changes to the law to make unauthorised installation of software illegal.
— Companies who release IT products with security vulnerabilities should be open to claims for compensation by consumers.
Another of its recommendations was to create a new "e-security code of practice" that would define the responsibilities of internet service providers and their customers.
The code of practice would see companies like Telstra give their customers security advice when they signed up and inform them if their computer ever appeared to be compromised.
For their part, customers would have to install anti-virus and firewall software before their connection was activated and endeavour to keep the software up-to-date.
If a customer's computer was infected by malware, the service provider could introduce gradual restrictions and eventually cut off their internet connection entirely until the machine was "remediated".