A breach of Internet Security at the WA Public Transport Authority in Mid March 2016, required a complete shutdown of its entire IT network system. While no secure data was compromised, hacking into system networks is more common than many business people are aware of.
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Warning on hack threat
Nick Sas, West Australian 30 March 2016
A hack which led the Public Transport Authority to shut its whole IT system last week is indicative of the constant threat WA businesses and government agencies face, an IT security expert claims.
Tony Campbell, a security expert for Perth company Kinetic IT, said the breach on Thursday, which was still affecting some PTA websites yesterday, was likely an attempt by hackers to get access to customers’ credit card details through the Smart-rider system and sell them on the black market.
Mr Campbell, a former contractor for the British military who has been in IT security for almost 20 years, said the hack was a regular occurrence across the country and highlighted the need for cyber protection, an area often neglected in WA.
“It’s an eye opener,” Mr Campbell said. “We’re all the way over here on the west coast and feeling kind of isolated by all that distance between us, the east and everyone else around us and I don’t think cyber attack is really in the forefront of any real businesses’ mind over here.
“We only hear about the big breaches, the ones such as the Sony breach last year, but there are all sorts of small breaches which are going on right under our noses all the time.”
The attempted hack was spotted by the PTA’s IT department, which responded by shutting all systems.
It meant websites such as Transperth, RightTrack, School Bus Services, Get on Board and its own PTA website and staff emails went offline.
The attack did not cause any significant damage apart from the system shutdown, however the PTA took until late yesterday to have all its websites and IT structures back in place.
Although the PTA said the process stopped the hack in its tracks, Mr Campbell questioned whether the shutdown of its entire IT system should be deemed a successful result.
He said WA Government departments, which have been ranked as the worst in the country for cyber security, needed to improve.
“I don’t think things will change until something really bad happens, unfortunately,” he said. “Every organisation is being targeted all the time, it’s a continual battle and a continual evolution within business to protect critical information.”