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South Australia government data breached in ransomware attack

Between 38,000 to 80,000 government employees might have been affected and potentially have had their data posted on the dark web

The government of South Australia has revealed that a ransomware attack on its payroll provider has resulted in around 38,000 to 80,000 government employees' data being exfiltrated and potentially posted on the dark web.

Payroll provider Frontier Software, which has provided payroll services to the government since 2001, announced it had been the target of a cyber attack on 16 November. Yesterday, the company confirmed to the government that its data had been stolen from its network and published on the dark web.

Records of at least 38,000 employees were accessed and up to 80,000 might have been accessed, and the government is currently working with Frontier to try and establish a more accurate estimate.

The data accessed contains employees’ identifying information like first and last name, date of birth, tax file number, home address, bank account details, remuneration, tax withheld, and reportable fringe benefits tax amount.

The government has partnered with a cyber security support service to work with employees to develop a specific response plan and provide personal support throughout the process, at no cost to employees. It is also writing to anyone affected by the breach, which may include former employees who worked for the state between 1 July 2020 and 4 November 2021.

Frontier Software stated on 17 November that it had seen no evidence of any customer data being exfiltrated or stolen, adding that although its corporate systems had been affected, its Australian customer HR & Payroll data and systems were segmented from the corporate systems and were not compromised.

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Despite this, the company said yesterday that its investigation had confirmed evidence of some data exfiltration from its internal Australian corporate environment which related to a small number of its customers.

This ransomware attack comes after an energy company owned by the Queensland government confirmed it had been hit by a ransomware attack at the end of November. CS Energy said the incident occurred on its corporate network but had not impacted electricity generation at its power stations. It revealed it had contained the attack by segregating the corporate network from other internal networks and enacting business continuity processes.

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