Victorian council ‘infiltrated’ in cyber incident

Victoria’s Stonnington City Council is the latest Australian organisation to fall prey to a cyber incident, forcing systems offline and some staff to take annual leave while the issue is resolved.

Services taken offline following the incident include payments and the council’s ePlanning portal, with an “international agent” suspected of being involved.

City of Stonnington council in Victoria.

In a statement, the council said it had experienced “an IT issue on 27 August”.

“Some systems have been disabled while the issue is being investigated and resolved,” the council said. “Essential services delivered by council remain operational.”

CEO Jacqui Weatherill said the council’s technology team was working to keep the community connected to the council and “keep our data safe” while it resolves the issue.

“Our priority is to ensure our customer’s data is kept secure, our workforce can be as productive as possible, and our customers remain connected,” Ms Weatherill said.

“Essential services remain operational and, if any residents do require assistance, Council staff are available via our customer service number.

“We ask our customers to remain patient, understanding and supportive as we resolve this issue.”

In a subsequent interview with 7 News, Ms Weatherill said that “an international agent has come and infiltrated our systems”. A council spokesperson confirmed this to InnovationAus, but said that systems weren’t shut down as a result of the attack but rather as a proactive measure to investigate what was found over the weekend during routine maintenance.

Asked if it was ransomware, the spokesperson said it was unclear and that council was conducting “a complete investigation” to find out.

The council was working with the Victorian Department of Premier and Cabinet and other state and federal agencies to resolve the issue, as well as with its cyber insurance partner.

Stonnington is in Melbourne’s south-east and includes the suburbs of Armadale, Glen Iris, Kooyong, Malvern, Malvern East, Prahran, South Yarra, Toorak and Windsor.

The council joins a slew of Australian organisations subjected to cyber attacks in recent months, including South Australian welfare agency Uniting Communities, NSW Health, and Nine Entertainment Company, broadcaster of Channel Nine and publisher of The Sydney Morning Herald, the Australian Financial Review and The Age.

Do you know more? Contact James Riley via Email.

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