Cyber attacks target Catholic church, corporates

Cyber attacks on Melbourne’s Catholic Archdiocese paralysed its computer system for days, with the attackers demanding a ransom from the church, a spokesperson for the Archdiocese says.

Similar attacks have targeted Australia’s biggest corporate superannuation fund, TelstraSuper, while a cyber crime syndicate hacked and scrambled the files of Melbourne Heart Group, a cardiology unit based at Cabrini Hospital.

Toyota Australia was also the target of a cyber attack, with employees locked out of their emails for days.

The cyber attack on the Melbourne Archdiocese occurred last November when hackers infiltrated the church’s IT system using “ransomware”. This type of attack can threaten to publish the victim’s data or block access to it unless money is paid.

“We have not engaged with the ransomware issuer and obviously no ransom has been paid,” an Archdiocese spokesman said.

The Archdiocese has more than 200 church parishes, 331 schools and 10 Catholic hospitals.

The impact was confined to the church’s internal IT system and did not affect sensitive data relating to the schools overseen by the church’s education arm which runs on a separate network.

An Archdiocese spokesman says the church has been able to “isolate its impact” and progressively restore services.

TelstraSuper says it is prepared for cyber attacks. Over the years there have been a number of attempts to breach its computer systems a spokesperson for the superannuation company says.

The spokesperson confirmed TelstraSuper has never paid a ransom and has security systems that “proactively monitor threats” to the data of its 95,000 members.


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