Wednesday, 13 June 2018 09:54

Monash Uni dumps PageUp as firm claims systems now secure Featured


Monash University has disabled its systems that use human resources outfit PageUp People to manage recruitment and other human resource activities after last week's breach announcement and has not reinstated it.

The University said in a statement on Tuesday evening that while it had been informed by PageUp that its investigations had confirmed unauthorised access to its systems, there had been no word on the affected organisation or individuals.

PageUp issued three statements on Tuesday, one on its website attributed to chief executive Karen Cariss, and two through a PR outfit.

The second statement from the PR outfit was headlined "PageUp systems safe to use", with the first paragraph reading: "Following a security incident, PageUp has announced that the threat has been contained and eradicated and PageUp is safe to use."

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The Monash statement said that after hearing from PageUp as to what data had been affected, it was contacting anyone who had applied for a job at the University since it started using PageUp's systems.

Apart from the data that PageUp listed as probably having been accessed - names, street addresses, email addresses and telephone numbers - Monash said that "biographical details, including gender, date of birth, maiden name (if applicable), nationality, and whether the applicant was a local resident at the time of the application", plus "employment details at the time of the application" could all have leaked.

In the second statement sent by its PR people, PageUp said that security firm Hivint had been assisting it with incident response co-ordination.

It also said that security outfit Klein & Co were doing the forensics needed.

The company has not released many details about the incident and it does not look like it will go public with any findings, not for a while anyway.

"Completion of a third party containment report is expected this week," PageUp said.

"It is intended that findings will be shared at a private meeting of Australian Cyber Security Centre and Joint Cyber Security Centre members where PageUp security and technical teams can detail the steps and controls implemented to mitigate impact of the threat.

"This forum will provide an environment where we can confer with trusted counterparts from customer and partner organisations."

While the company said in its initial announcement that the breach was due to a malware infection, a statement from the PR people on Tuesday said: "Advanced methods were used to gain unauthorised access to PageUp’s IT systems in Australia, Singapore and the UK."

This indicates that the breach may have gone deeper into company systems than originally indicated.

The breach was announced on 6 June. The company has among its Australian clients the Commonwealth Bank. the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Telstra, NAB, Coles, Aldi, Medibank, Australia Post, Target, Reserve Bank of Australia, Officeworks, Kmart, Linfox, AMP, Asahi, Sony, Newcrest, the University of Tasmania and Lindt.

The hack was noticed on 23 May and five days later investigations showed that client data may have been compromised.

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Sam Varghese

Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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