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NSW Education says cyber attack may have compromised contact data

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Forensic analysis underway to “fully assess risk”

The NSW Department of Education warned late last week that “contact information” may have been compromised in the cyber attack against its network earlier in July.

The department said in a statement last Thursday that while investigations were continuing, indicators of compromise had been identified during the initial probe.

Department Secretary Georgina Harrison said:

Preliminary findings have indicated that some information including contact information may have been compromised. The department is now undertaking a forensic analysis in order to fully assess the risk and will communicate further information as it is known.

The department added that “all protocols required under legislation” would be followed once the extent of the compromise was known.

The cyber attack, which took place on July 7, forced the department to deactivate several IT systems to protect student and staff data just days before resume on the school term.

It came on the same day the NSW government confirmed students in lockdown areas would learn online in response to the state’s COVID-19 outbreak.

Online portals used by both staff and students were impacted, as was staff email and the staff intranet.

The department began to restore priority applications, including Zoom, Microsoft Office and Google Classroom, from July 10.

In addition to forensic specialists, the department is continuing to work closely with Cyber Security NSW, as well as NSW Police and federal authorities.

At the time the incident took place, we noted several issues plaguing the education sector, and commented on what the attack tells us about the state of cybersecurity in our schools. You can read that piece in full here.

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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