AAPT confirms data breach as Anonymous claims attack

Summary:AAPT has confirmed that it has been breached, following claims by Anonymous Australian that it broke into an ISP and stole 40GB of data that it plans to leak.

AAPT has confirmed that it has been breached, following claims by an Australian sect of Anonymous that it has broken into and stolen 40GB of data from the major Australian internet service provider (ISP).

Anonymous Australia was meant to release a sample of stolen data last night in order to prove that it was able to infiltrate the target's systems. However, the effort required to strip out personally identifiable information from the data, as well as some logistical issues, prevented the group from releasing it.

AAPT CEO David Yuile said that last night, at 9.30pm AEST, Melbourne IT alerted AAPT that there had been a breach of security and unauthorised access to AAPT's business customer data on its servers. Early this morning, an unverified member of Anonymous Australia hinted that AAPT was the target of an attack.

Yuile said that AAPT immediately asked Melbourne IT to shut down the affected servers. The company is now conducting an investigation into the incident, with Melbourne IT to determine what has been compromised, how the attackers gained access and what additional security measures are required.

"Preliminary findings suggest it was two files that were compromised, and the data is historic, with limited personal customer information. Further, the servers on which the files were stored have not been used or connected to AAPT for at least 12 months," Yuile said in a statement.

"AAPT is extremely concerned about this incident, and is treating this matter with the utmost seriousness. AAPT will be contacting any impacted customers as soon as possible."

Members from Anonymous Australia said that they will leak the stolen data on Sunday, but emphasised that they would not leak personal data. ZDNet Australia understands that the group estimates that the removal of personal data would bring the total amount of leaked data down from 40GB to between 30GB and 35GB.

The group launched the attack to demonstrate that if a large ISP such as AAPT is unable to keep its own data secure, it would be unable to keep Australians' data secure under a data-retention scheme, which the government has proposed .

Breaching the ISP's systems was not a one-man task, according to the group, with several people working on the attack. Despite the high-profile target, the group said it is not worried about being caught, and believes that it is safe and secure.

ZDNet Australia understands that the group is also planning to take action against members of parliament, pooling together information on key politicians into a planning document that ZDNet Australia has sighted. The information gathered by the group so far is limited, but includes details on how Julia Gillard likes her coffee and the personal address of one politician's relative. The document contains a disclaimer that it is a "collaborative fiction book writing project", but a cursory search reveals that much of the information is publicly available and accurate.

Other details contained in the planning document include tasks that are still to be carried out by the group, including researching union representatives who backed Gillard for the leadership battle; setting up a LinkedIn account to accrue information about Gillard's support and public relations staff; and researching the personal details of Gillard's family, friends, enemies and sexual history.

The group is also considering making its own submission to the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security over the committee's inquiry into a potential reform of Australia's national security legislation, which contains the data-retention proposal . Anonymous will have up to 20 August to make a submission .

Topics: Security

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A Sydney, Australia-based journalist, Michael Lee covers a gamut of news in the technology space including information security, state Government initiatives, and local startups.

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