Employees Affected by Victorian Government Employees’ Data Breach

We are only starting the second week of 2019, but Australia’s government already experienced its first data breach of the year. Around 30,000 personal information of government staff working for the Victorian government was breached. The infiltration incident stole employees and officials’ records containing their full name, phone numbers, work email addresses and job titles. Enough information were stolen to pull a successful identity theft against the personnel of the Victorian government.

Representatives from the Australian Cybersecurity Center and the police are already dispatched in order to join the investigating team. The incident happened just a week after the revelation of the Nova Entertainment of Australia about their seven year old data breach.

“Because of this incident you may experience increased phishing, spam and social engineering attempts via your work email address and telephone numbers. As always, you should be aware of these risks and remain vigilant when it comes to unsolicited communications via email and telephone,” explained in the internal memo sent to all employees of Victorian government.

The Victorian government issued a guarantee that no financial information was included in the data breach. The team assembled for the deeper probe is headed by no other than the Office of the Victorian Information Commissioner. The government already sent the affected employees their official communication about the issue, including the details and progress of the investigation.

“If you take even small snippets of information and you aggregate them into a dataset, you can then get an image of the entire State Government because you know all the different people, their positions, their phone numbers … and you can figure out where the power centre is and who you would target if you were going to try to hack someone’s email. Whether that’s for commercial reasons about winning a contract or whether you were an international state player who might have an interest — financial or policy wise — all of these types of people could be advantaged by the information that was actually hacked” emphasized Suelette Dreyfus, Phd, Cybersecurity Researcher at Melbourne University.

With this, the Australian government needs to increase the capability of all its agencies and offices to defend themselves from cyber attacks. Also, this incident of security breach is happening on the backdrop of Australia’s national effort to increase IT security of government institution spearheaded by the 2016 Cybersecurity Strategy with initial funding of $164 million.

The land down under’s Department of Industry, Innovation and Science has also launched Cyber Security Small Business Program to support any cybersecurity projects pushed by the public and private sectors, including the SMEs (Small and Medium Enterprises). High risks of Australia to cyber attacks is due to the high household Internet penetration of the country, with eight of every 10 Australian citizens have access to the Internet on a regular basis. From the latest survey, Australia as a nation spends $710 million yearly in order to counter the damage cost of cyber attacks, virus infection and phishing, funds are both sourced from private and government sectors.

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