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Melbourne Polytechnic alerts staff and students following cyber breach

Files containing personal data of Melbourne Polytechnic staff and students have been accessed following a breach of the institute’s IT systems in the final months of 2018.

Melbourne Polytechnic was notified of the data theft in late 2019 following an investigation by Victoria Police, who have charged an individual. Forensic ICT specialists and cybersecurity experts have spent the past months analysing the highly complex set of files to determine the extent and scale of the breach.

Melbourne Polytechnic has begun reaching out and offering support to staff and students whose personal data was accessed during the breach of the Institute’s network.    

Forensic analysis indicates that access was gained to 55,000 individual files which included Melbourne Polytechnic email address and passwords as well as some personal data such as financial and health information.

In addressing the incident, Melbourne Polytechnic CEO Frances Coppolillo apologised to all those involved.    

“On behalf of Melbourne Polytechnic, I offer my sincere apologies to all the people affected by this data breach. In sharing your information, you expected us to keep it safe and I am sorry that we were not able to do so,” Ms Coppolillo said.

“In response to this incident, we have completed an independent review of our cyber security procedures and are implementing a range of improvements including software and hardware upgrades to better protect our IT systems.

Melbourne Polytechnic has written to affected individuals to inform them of the data breach and to provide specific details about what information of theirs was taken.

“This data breach was highly complex in nature and it has taken many months to fully understand its scale and impact, including identifying the names and contact details of the people affected and the details of how they were impacted by the breach,” Ms Coppolillo said.

“With the forensic analysis now complete, we have acted as quickly as possible to notify affected individuals and to support them to take the actions needed to protect themselves.

“I would also like to apologise for the length of time it has taken us to be able to share this information with the people concerned.”

Alongside the letters, Melbourne Polytechnic has also provided information for individuals developed in partnership with IDCARE, Australia’s national cyber security and identity theft support service, about what actions people should take to protect themselves.

“We are deeply sorry for the impact that the theft of this personal data might have. In response we have established a special Cyber Support Call Centre for affected staff and students to contact should they need further support,” Ms Coppolillo said.

Impacted individuals who require further support can request a call from Melbourne Polytechnic’s Cyber Support Call Centre, using the contact request form available online at www.melbournepolytechnic.edu.au/cybersupport.

Notes to the editor:

  • An individual has been charged and the matter is now before the Courts. As a result, Melbourne Polytechnic is unable to provide further details on the nature of the breach
  • Impacted staff and students will have been either working or studying at Melbourne Polytechnic at or prior to September 2018
  • Melbourne Polytechnic has established a page on its website containing relevant detail about the breach and information for people who may have been affected. For further information visit www.melbournepolytechnic.edu.au/cybersupport
  • Melbourne Polytechnic has been working closely with relevant state authorities and has alerted Federal Government Authorities responsible for the privacy breaches
  • Over the past 18 months Melbourne Polytechnic has been increasing the strength of its cyber security. This process has been escalated since becoming aware of this data breach
  • Individuals wishing to take steps to update their personal cyber security can view relevant tips and information online at www.staysmartonline.gov.au

    

MEDIA ENQUIRIES

Media enquiries should be directed to Melbourne Polytechnic Media to Matt Thomas on mobile 0414 408 674 or media@melbournepolytechnic.edu.au

ABOUT MELBOURNE POLYTECHNIC

Melbourne Polytechnic operates across seven campuses and five specialist-training centres throughout Melbourne. The institute delivers high quality vocational and higher education in industry-standard facilities.