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NZ’s DOC hit by ransomware attack

A ransomware attack has potentially compromised personal information held by New Zealand’s Department of Conservation.

user icon Charbel Kadib
Fri, 20 Aug 2021
NZ’s DOC hit by ransomware attack
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The department has reached out to 11 individuals potentially exposed to the breach, which occurred on 21 July at the Search and Rescue (SAR) Base at Aoraki/Mount Cook.

The malware prevented staff from accessing shared files that had been encrypted.

“Information relating to DOC staff at the SAR base as well as individuals who have been assisted through DOC operations may have been accessed and downloaded by the attackers prior to the information being encrypted,” deputy director-general corporate services Rachel Bruce said.

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“We took immediate action once we became aware of the attack.”

Five devices on the network were immediately isolated and sent for third-party forensic analysis to determine the severity of the compromise.

“Business continuity plans for the SAR base were activated and the SAR team was able to remain active and operational without these devices,” Bruce continued.

“Within four working days of the incident the team received replacement devices.”

The DOC notified government agencies, including the Office of the Privacy Commissioner, and is currently awaiting results from forensic analysts and a review of documents to determine the privacy impact.

“We are working with the Office of the Privacy Commissioner, the Chief Information Security Officer and Privacy Officer at New Zealand Police and the Rescue Coordination Centre,” the deputy director added.

Overall, 92 operations were impacted, with just 11 including sensitive information about the individuals involved, some of whom were tourists potentially residing overseas.

“We will provide appropriate support to any of the people who require it,” Bruce said.

“We have isolated the SAR network. No other parts of DOC network or IT systems were impacted, and we continue to make improvements including ensuring staff are well informed of the constant risk of cyber-attack.”

Charbel Kadib

Charbel Kadib

News Editor – Defence and Security, Momentum Media

Prior to joining the defence and aerospace team in 2020, Charbel was news editor of The Adviser and Mortgage Business, where he covered developments in the banking and financial services sector for three years. Charbel has a keen interest in geopolitics and international relations, graduating from the University of Notre Dame with a double major in politics and journalism. Charbel has also completed internships with The Australian Department of Communications and the Arts and public relations agency Fifty Acres

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