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The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner has opened an investigation into the breach of two Fairfax microsites to probe whether sufficient security mechanisms were in place during the attacks.
Privacy Commissioner Timothy Pilgrim said the office would also investigate whether the web sites complied with the Privacy Act.
“I have opened an investigation into allegations that the Herald Education website may have been subject to hacking, compromising the personal information of some subscribers,” Pilgrim said.
“My investigation will be looking at the site’s compliance with the Privacy Act and in particular whether appropriate data security practices were in place at the time of the alleged hack.
Fairfax confirmed that two of its microsites were hacked but said up to 10,000 unencrypted credit card details compromised in the same attack were not linked to Fairfax customers.
Hackers revealed to SC Magazine how they managed to exploit vulnerabilities in two third party-hosted web sites, Herald Education and Young Writer.
SC Magazine informed Fairfax of the vulnerabilities as part of responsible information security disclosure. The sites have been taken offline in response.
“I strongly encourage businesses to make the security of their customer’s personal information a top priority, particularly in the light of an increased number of similar security breaches in 2011,” Pilgrim said.
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