A report into cybercrime by the Australian House of Representatives Standing Committee on Communications titled, "Hackers, Fraudsters and Botnets: Tackling the Problem of Cyber Crime," has recommended that Australians "be unable to access the Internet without having anti-virus and firewall programs installed and a virus-free machine," says a story in the Sydney Morning Herald.

The 260-plus page report goes on to state, among its 34 recommendations, that there is:

  • an obligation by an Internet Service Provider (ISP) to provide basic security advice when an account is set up to assist the end user to protect themselves from hacking and malware infections;
  • a mandatory obligation to inform end users when their IP address has been identified as linked to an infected machine(s);
  • a clear policy on graduated access restrictions and, if necessary, disconnection until the infected machine is remediated;
  • the provision of basic advice and referral for technical assistance for remediation; and
  • a requirement that acceptable use policies include contractual obligations that require a subscriber to (a) install anti-virus software and firewalls before the Internet connection is activated; (b) endeavour to keep e-security software protections up to date; and (c) take reasonable steps to remediate their computer(s) when notified of suspected malware compromise.

Needless to say, the report's recommendations have sparked controversy, with some questioning the legal authority of the government to determine the terms of ISP contracts with their customers; others questioning whether only certain anti-virus software will be acceptable and who decides that; and still others questioning how corporate networks would be policed.

I'd be interested in hearing from Risk Factor readers how they would feel about not being allowed to connect to the Internet unless you have up-to-date anti-virus software installed or if you have an infected machine.

What about the feasibility of the scheme?

Finally, would you voluntarily sign up with an ISP that followed the recommendations listed above?

The Conversation (0)

Metamaterials Could Solve One of 6G’s Big Problems

There’s plenty of bandwidth available if we use reconfigurable intelligent surfaces

12 min read
An illustration depicting cellphone users at street level in a city, with wireless signals reaching them via reflecting surfaces.

Ground level in a typical urban canyon, shielded by tall buildings, will be inaccessible to some 6G frequencies. Deft placement of reconfigurable intelligent surfaces [yellow] will enable the signals to pervade these areas.

Chris Philpot

For all the tumultuous revolution in wireless technology over the past several decades, there have been a couple of constants. One is the overcrowding of radio bands, and the other is the move to escape that congestion by exploiting higher and higher frequencies. And today, as engineers roll out 5G and plan for 6G wireless, they find themselves at a crossroads: After years of designing superefficient transmitters and receivers, and of compensating for the signal losses at the end points of a radio channel, they’re beginning to realize that they are approaching the practical limits of transmitter and receiver efficiency. From now on, to get high performance as we go to higher frequencies, we will need to engineer the wireless channel itself. But how can we possibly engineer and control a wireless environment, which is determined by a host of factors, many of them random and therefore unpredictable?

Perhaps the most promising solution, right now, is to use reconfigurable intelligent surfaces. These are planar structures typically ranging in size from about 100 square centimeters to about 5 square meters or more, depending on the frequency and other factors. These surfaces use advanced substances called metamaterials to reflect and refract electromagnetic waves. Thin two-dimensional metamaterials, known as metasurfaces, can be designed to sense the local electromagnetic environment and tune the wave’s key properties, such as its amplitude, phase, and polarization, as the wave is reflected or refracted by the surface. So as the waves fall on such a surface, it can alter the incident waves’ direction so as to strengthen the channel. In fact, these metasurfaces can be programmed to make these changes dynamically, reconfiguring the signal in real time in response to changes in the wireless channel. Think of reconfigurable intelligent surfaces as the next evolution of the repeater concept.

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