26 September 2023

Defence platform caught in ransomware

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The Department of Defence’s e-communications platform ForceNet has been caught up in a ransomware attack.

In a message to all staff, the Secretary of Defence, Greg Moriarty and Chief Defence Force, General Angus Campbell said the external information and communication technology (ICT) service provider that facilitates ForceNet had been attacked.

“To be clear, this is not an attack on Defence ICT,” Mr Moriarty and General Campbell said.

“Defence is taking this matter very seriously and working with the provider to determine the extent of the attack.”

They said Defence was also working with the provider to determine if the data of current and former Australian Public Service (APS) staff and Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel had been impacted.

“If you had a ForceNet account in 2018, Defence urges you to be vigilant but not alarmed,” the Defence bosses said.

“Initial discussions with the service provider indicate there is no evidence that the data of current and former APS staff and ADF personnel has been compromised,” they said.

“We are nevertheless examining the contents of the 2018 ForceNet dataset and what personal information it contains.”

The note to staff warned that Defence expected the frequency, intensity and sophistication of hacks to grow with time.

It reminded staff they were not immune from attacks.

Assistant Minister for Defence, Matt Thistlethwaite said the attack was being taken “very seriously”, with the ADF in the process of contacting members.

“They’re suggesting considering changing passwords and moving to two-factor authentication and the like, but importantly, the aim will be to support ADF personnel,” Mr Thistlethwaite said.

Defence has partnered with IDCARE, Australia’s national identity and cyber support community service, to support anyone who believes they may have had a ForceNet account in 2018.

Sharing the information, the Department of Veterans’ Affairs said anyone wishing to engage IDCARE should complete a Get Help Form for Individuals and quote referral code DFG22.

The IDCARE form can be accessed at this PS News link.

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