A Northern Territory Government system has been hit by a ransomware attack and was down for 3 weeks after an attack hit one of its suppliers and forced its sensitive database to be taken offline.
The NT Government has confirmed that in spite of the government system being down for 3 weeks after a ransomware attack, none of the data it is responsible for protecting was accessed by unauthorised third parties.
According to a statement given to the ABC, the NT Department of Corporate and Digital Development has said that hackers targeted a supplier of its cloud computing system, who at this point in time, remains unnamed.
“In 2020, a supplier to the NT Government was compromised and subsequently ‘ransomwared,’ a spokesperson for the department said. “This system was unavailable for three weeks while the vendor recovered the environment,” they added.
The NT Gov system was hit by ransomware targeting a third party supplier linked to the Northern Territory government.
A ransomware attack is a form of cyber attack that acts to encrypt – lock up – the files and sensitive information of an organisation, making it inaccessible until a ransom is paid by the victim. This payment is usually in the form of a cryptocurrency, which are difficult for authorities to track.
Rather than paying the demands of a hacker, the spokesperson for the NT Government Department said that it worked alongside the Australian Cyber Security Centre to remediate the ransomware attack.
“They took the system offline and restored it from backup copies,” they said, adding that the Department used a number of its business continuity strategies to continue to operate in spite of the digital outage.
“The confidentiality and integrity of NT Government data was not impacted as a result of the incident,” the spokesperson added.
The NT Government has released a statement saying that its information security system was able to block 46 million suspicious emails in 2020 alone. That amounts to more than 70% of the 68 million emails that passed through the NT Government’s network for the year of 2020.
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According to the ABC’s report, “some emails still managed to trick public servants,” including one case that saw a staff member receiving a “spoofed email impersonating a known contact.”
“The email sought financial assistance from the unsuspecting recipient through the purchase of $300 worth of gift cards.”
The NT Government’s spokesperson said in reference to the attempted social engineering tactic that “the NT Government employee did not check with the person impersonated before taking action to personally purchase iTunes gift cards and email the iTunes gift card details to the scammer.”
The spokesperson added that “malicious documents are occasionally downloaded, however, the anti-virus software running in the NT Government computing environment detects and removes” viruses, but the network is still prone to a range of information security risks.
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