Virus drives down camera infringements

24 Sep 2018 • Age, Melbourne (General News)
by Benjamin Preiss

A computer virus that infected Victoria’s road safety camera network contributed to a major decrease in the number of infringements issued in the past financial year.

Infringements plummeted by more than 10 per cent to 2.7 million in 2017-18, in part due to the WannaCry virus, which wreaked havoc with dozens of road cameras in June last year.

The latest annual report from the Department of Justice, tabled among a dump of documents in Parliament last week, also showed that increased roadworks was among the factors that drove down infringement numbers.

Some of the infected cameras were shut down for days as a result of the virus, which spread through more than 150 countries.

Thousands of infringements were also put on hold as the virus was being investigated but they were subsequently reinstated.

The decrease in processed infringements continued a downward trend over a four-year period, the annual report showed.

The infection of the speed camera network by the WannaCry virus prompted an investigation by Road Safety Camera Commissioner John Voyage, who found the virus did not have any bearing on the accuracy of the cameras.

Police Minister Lisa Neville insisted Victorians could be confident the camera network was operating properly and changes recommended by the commissioner had been implemented.

“To promote the integrity of the road safety camera system and public confidence in it, the cameras had additional downtime to ensure the virus had been fully rectified,” she said. Ms Neville said speed cameras played a critical role in saving lives and money they generated went back into improving the road system.

The department’s spokesman said action had already been taken to strengthen the security and governance of the road camera network.

“A road safety camera network audit has been created as an additional check to protect the integrity of the system and maintain security,” he said. The virus locked victims’ files and demanded a ransom to release them. While the virus was detected in Victoria’s road camera network, no ransom demands were ever received.

Both the deactivation of cameras due to the virus and roadworks also led to the number of infringements falling short of the projected target by almost 7 per cent.

In addition, toll road operators had “increased their in-house collection activity”, which had reduced the number of matters referred to the police, the report said.

Shadow attorney-general John Pesutto attacked the government’s response to the virus.

“The Andrews Labor government is never working harder than when it wants to cover something up and it’s no surprise that Department of Justice’s annual report glosses over the WannaCry controversy as if it were a mere administrative glitch,” he said.

The annual report said road trauma cost Victoria more than $3 billion a year and road safety cameras targeted speed and red light offences to prevent unnecessary deaths and injuries. ‘

‘The cameras had additional downtime to ensure the virus had been rectified.’ Lisa Neville, Police Minister

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