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Gridware Cybersecurity in Australia Update – July Edition


Internet threats continue to ramp up, so there’s a lot to report from the past month. The Australian National University suffered a huge data breach which may have long term effects, we have a new government cybersecurity leader, and a new centre for cybersecurity research has opened its doors.

The Australian National University Suffered a Massive Data Breach

At the beginning of June, it was revealed that the Australian National University (ANU) had its systems breached in 2018, resulting in a breach that may have affected the personal data of up to 200,000 people.

The breach was only detected in May, so the hacker had months of access to the ANU’s systems. The attacker accessed personal data from staff, students and visitors.

The ABC reported that the type of data involved depended on what the person had provided to the university. It could have included “names, addresses, dates of birth, phone numbers, personal email addresses and emergency contact details, tax file numbers, payroll information, bank account details, and passport details. Student academic records were also accessed.”

One of the most worrying aspects is that the breach didn’t only affect current individuals involved with the university – the breach included access to 19 years worth of records.

The Sydney Morning Herald said that intelligence officials think that China is behind the attack and worry that the data could be used to groom informants. There is no public evidence confirming the perpetrator at this stage, but due to the sophistication of the attack, a nation-state like China is the most likely culprit.

If this turns out to be true, it’s feared that the data could be used against those linked to the university, as they mount careers in government, intelligence and business. Such a tactic could compromise the individuals, giving China access to high powered-spies within the country.

Rachel Noble Is Announced as the New Leader of the Australian Cyber Security Centre

Following the recent stepping down of Alastair MacGibbon, Rachel Noble has been appointed as the head of the country’s cybersecurity hub. Noble currently serves as the deputy secretary for the Department of Home Affairs.

Noble has previously worked under the Australian Signals Directorate, as well as in the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. She also has cybersecurity experience, having coordinated government cyber policy and helping to enhance information sharing in the past.

“The cyber threat is real and Rachel is ideally qualified to confront it,” said ASD director-general Mike Burgess, Noble’s new boss.

New Cyber Research Centre Opens at Flinders University

Flinders University recently opened a cyber research centre that aims to give the government, NGOs and defence organisations the opportunity to work alongside it.

The Jeff Bleich Centre, named after a former US Ambassador to Australia, will involve collaboration with the US to help government and industry manage the latest cyber threats and defend against attacks.

“It will consolidate Flinders University’s research expertise and strengths in digital technologies, security and governance, and build upon Flinders’ existing strengths in US policy studies and the university’s strong US alliance,” said Flinders University vice-chancellor Colin Stirling.

Ahmed Khanji

Ahmed Khanji

Ahmed Khanji is the CEO of Gridware, a leading cybersecurity consultancy based in Sydney, Australia. An emerging thought leader in cybersecurity, Ahmed is an Adjunct Professor at Western Sydney University and regularly contributes to cybersecurity conversations in Australia. As well as his extensive background as a security advisor to large Australian Enterprises, he is a regular keynote speaker and guest lecturer on offensive cybersecurity topics and blockchain.


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