Australian education minister Kate Jones has reveled Tuesday that more than 600 Department of Education files dating back as early as 2013 were accessed during a data breach, putting the personal information of hundreds of children at risk
The Department of Education began to alert parents via a phone call that “sensitive, personal information” about their children, including sexual assault complaints, may have been stolen by hackers.
“In relation to the Department of Education, more than 600 records, dating back to 2013, were accessed illegally,” Ms Jones said in a statement published Wednesday. “I can confirm no financial data such as credit card information or bank details have been accessed.”
“We are also confident that the information available that had been hacked is very low-level information in the majority of cases in that this information is information that would otherwise be found on our public websites, such as the white pages and so forth,” Attorney-General Yvette D’Ath told State Parliament on Tuesday alongside Ms Jones.
Ms Jones told the house that the unauthorized information released in regards to the recent hack have been turned over to the Crime and Corruption Commission for investigation.
Meanwhile, Opposition Leader Lawrence Springborg accused the state government of trying to cover up the recent education hack.
“We had the Attorney-General stand up and say that the information which was released was akin to information you will find in the White Pages,” Mr Springborg said speaking on the alleged coverup. “Well I don’t believe I have ever seen information in the White Pages in relation to alleged sexual assaults against children and other personal, private and sensitive information. This has been deliberately downplayed.”
The recent education breach is believed to involve a few hundred children and may even involve sensitive information that could jeopardize the students privacy.
While hundreds of documents were stolen from the Department of Education, not all cases accessed were low-level. More than 10 cases accessed in the breach were labeled “critical.”
Hackers were able to breach the department through an online complaint form that families can fill out, with complaints ranging from sexual abuse to bullying.
Jones refused to give further information to Parliament regarding the attack, insisting she was merely taking the advice police offered, warning it could jeopardize the investigation into the breach, which was made public late Tuesday.
“We have been taking their advice on what is appropriate to say publicly so we do not add any fuel to the fire in regards to this criminal activity,” Jones added.
Hackers were able to breach both TAFE websites and other Department of Education sites.
The government admitted it was only able to spot the attack after receiving “an email threat from an unknown source” also known as a ransom letter.
The Department of Education has said the Queensland Police Service Fraud and Cyber Crime unit are currently investigation the attack.