Up to 40,000 records of private communications between present and previous Australian defense forces members may have been exposed due to a ransomware attack. The defense said on Monday that a communications network called ForceNet may have had a dataset stolen due to an attack on an outside ICT service provider.
According to Matt Keogh, the minister for veterans’ affairs and defense personnel, the dataset was from 2018 and comprised 30,000 to 40,000 records. The defense is still satisfied that no personal information was obtained. However, they are still trying to determine whose current and past employees, including the department’s public servants, may have been impacted. He compared ForceNet to a corporate social networking site.
“We’re working with that external provider to make sure we’ve got a full picture of what sort of data was there and available,” Keogh said. “We understand it may have been about 30 to 40,000 records that they held, so we’re not saying that that’s what’s out there but that’s what the external provider held. But we’re working now to get a full picture of who those individuals might have been.”
ForceNet’s website reveals that it enables auditable one-to-one and one-to-many information exchange, as well as targeted messages and help in an emergency and to particular people. It was created for the defense and approved by the chief information officer group for the defense. It may be used by service personnel, sponsored family members, and other authorized users. ForceNet’s FAQ section says that users may be sure that only other authorized users will be able to access their information and content.
A spokesperson for the defense said that they had recently learned of the attack, but she would not say when it happened or how soon after they knew about it. The identity of the external provider that was attacked has remained a secret. In order to ascertain the scope of the attack, Defense is consulting with the provider and treating this situation extremely seriously.
Preliminary discussions with the service provider show no evidence that the information of current and past [Australian Public Service] employees or [Australian Defence Force] members have been compromised. Defense is investigating the 2018 ForceNet dataset’s contents and any personal data it may include.
According to Keogh, the recent cyberattacks in Australia, particularly those that targeted Optus and Medibank, are alarming. The cyberattacks made it clear that people must guard their personal information carefully and that governments must guarantee that businesses are taking adequate security precautions.