Privacy Commissioner opens investigation into Fairfax site hack

Herald Education and Young Writer have been taken down following the security breach

The Australian Privacy Commissioner, Timothy Pilgrim, has launched an investigation into the recent hacking of Fairfax microsite, Herald Education. Fairfax’s Young Writer microsite was also hacked.

Both websites, which are hosted by a third party, provide student activities and teaching resources, as well as offering promotional subscriptions of the Sydney Morning Herald (SMH).

“I have opened an investigation into allegations that the Herald Education website may have been subject to hacking, compromising the personal information of some subscribers,” Pilgrim said in a statement.

“My investigation will be looking at the site’s compliance with the Privacy Act and in particular whether appropriate data security practices were in place at the time of the alleged hack.”

Fairfax has also ordered the third-party provider to take the websites down.

SC Magazine Australia reported that hackers claimed to have obtained 10,000 unencrypted credit card details and gained access to the domain using administration details stored in one of the hacked websites.

The Sydney Morning Herald reported that Fairfax claimed its main media sites and subscriber details were not compromised in the security breach.

Pilgrim said that security breaches similar to this one had increased in 2011 and so businesses should be extra cautious.

“I strongly encourage businesses to make the security of their customer’s personal information a top priority, particularly in the light of an increased number of similar security breaches in 2011,” he said in a statement.

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