Stolen: Personal Details Of 80k Australian Government Employees

Nearly 80,000 public sector workers in South Australia "should assume" their personal information has been accessed in a recent cyber attack, the state's Treasurer says. State government employees advised to change passwords and monitor bank accounts after massive payroll data breach.

Australia is increasingly vulnerable to a crippling cyber attack that will grind the country to a halt overnight, a world expert has warned.

The information obtained by the hackers includes the first and last names of employees, their date of birth, home address, tax file number, bank account details and more. of almost 80,000 South Australian government employees may have been stolen in a cyber attack, with workers advised to assume their personal information has been stolen. 

All employees were advised to take security steps such as changing passwords and security questions used to identify a person while monitoring their accounts for any unusual activity.

The South Australia Privacy Committee, Office of the Australian Information Commissioner and the Australian federal police have been notified about the incident and Australian authorities are reported to believe the breach involved a ransomware attack launched by Russian hackers from five weeks ago. The South Australian treasurer, Rob Lucas, first disclosed on Friday that records of 38,000 government employees had been stolen in a cyber attack, but confirmed the extent of the data breach on Tuesday. 

The attack was carried out against Frontier Software, an external company that has provided the South Australian government’s payroll software for the last 20 years. It affects employees working for the government as of July last year, with only employees at the Department of Education excluded from the hack.In a notice posted on its website Frontier Software said some of its Australian customer systems had been hit be a cyber incident on 13 November and it had begun informing clients. 

Lucas apologised to employees affected saying it was a “very serious breach”. “It’s almost everyone, members of parliament, right through to the premier, also people who serve on government boards and committees... To the extent we can, we are providing the maximum amount of security we can now that this has occurred.”

Rob Lee, founder and CEO of security specialist firm Dragos, has warned Australia's critical infrastructure has been left behind in the race to protect against cyber terrorists. The nation's oil and gas fields and mining sector would be prime targets for a cyber attack. 'Compared to other regions in the world, Australia is behind,' Mr Lee said. 

Public Service Association acting general secretary Natasha Brown said the union was seeking legal advice on behalf of its members. “The government must take full responsibility for the integrity of this very sensitive data,” Brown said. Justin Warren, chair of Electronic Frontiers Australia, said the incident was “all too familiar” and that those affected should be compensated for “the work they have to do to respond to this violation of their privacy... This data breach demonstrates, yet again, that once government or business has your data there is very little you can do if their cybersecurity isn’t good enough,” Warren said. 

SouthAustralia.Gov:    ABC:     Hit Melbourne:      Guardian:     Mail:   CDO Trends:

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