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Australian Government Agencies Susceptible to Social-engineering Scams

Australian Government Agencies Susceptible to Social-engineering Scams - top government contractors - best government contracting event
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More than a dozen West Australian government agencies lack adequate systems to detect or respond to a cyber attack, the state’s auditor general revealed in a recent report.

The Office of the Auditor General hired a university to launch external attacks on 15 government agencies, including the health, transport, mine and gas departments.

While these intrusions were “deliberately hostile,” only one of the agencies detected the attacks.

“In some cases, we chose to escalate the attacks in a specific attempt to have our activity detected,” Auditor General Colin Murphy said, according to AAP.

In one case, an agency was hit by a brute force attack that made several million attempts to gain access to a web server. Even though the attack “noticeably degraded” the performance of the agency’s network, Murphy said it went unnoticed.

The incident was especially troubling as the agency in question had engaged a contractor to identify cyber threats, he noted.

The auditor general also launched internal attacks by leaving USB data sticks lying around public areas. Employees from eight of the agencies picked up the thumb drives and plugged them into computers, which then sent information back to the auditor general via the Internet.

The exercise proved how easily existing security mechanisms can be bypassed if staff is not properly trained, Murphy said.

“It is also a highly dangerous form of attack because it allows a perpetrator to gain direct access into the agency’s network, thereby providing control over information resources from the internet without detection,” he said.

 

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