15 August 2020

UPDATED: Education Directorate email list breach leads to explicit emails sent to students

| Dominic Giannini
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The Education Directorate is investigating the incident. Photo: Education ACT Instagram.

UPDATED Saturday 15 August, 12:30 pm: ACT public schools have experienced an “email incident” that resulted in spam emails with inappropriate material being circulated to students, the Education Directorate has confirmed.

Preliminary investigations have indicated that students gained access to the system’s email distribution lists and inappropriately used them to send emails to their peers, some of which contained explicit material, a Directorate spokesperson said.

“This activity took place within the Education network and there has been no external security breach,” the spokesperson said.

“No external body has hacked or exported information from the system.

“The Directorate will work over the weekend to review the material that was distributed, and will be following up as appropriate.”

The Australian Federal Police and ACT Policing were notified of the breach and information was provided to all ACT public school families.

Education Minister Yvette Berry has requested an independent review of security settings before the system is reactivated over the weekend.

An email to parents of the Telopea Park binational school in Barton said “the Education Directorate wifi and servers have been hacked/breached today [Friday 14 August] leading to very explicit emails and messages circulating in the ACT.

“Some students could be receiving inappropriate messages and emails on devices including mobile phones.”

The Education Directorate initially responded by blocking access to the Google platform for all students.

“Access will resume once the incident has been thoroughly investigated and appropriate security controls put in place,” the spokesperson said.

“Schools, parents and students have all been advised if they received the email they should not forward it on and delete any copies they may have.”

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In an email dated 14 August to all parents and carers the over-reacting Education Directorate advised:
“The Education Directorate has responded by temporarily blocking access to the Google platform which includes Gmail, Google drive and Google classroom. This platform will be unavailable until the incident has been investigated and appropriate controls are put in place. We understand this may impact some students’ ability to study over the weekend and schools will take this into consideration, where appropriate….
….. Students and families can access support services through KidsHelpline 1800 551 800 or lifeline 13 11 14. “

It wasn’t hacked, it was just some smart GCS kid finding a hidden email group that sent to all students. The Educational Directorate is just blaming “hackers” for their inadequate online security.

There’s probably going to be a reply all storm soon, unless they sent it bcc

Year 11 student in my household said they received well over 100 emails in half an hour, so the reply all storm has probably happened

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