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Australian Health and Transport Agencies Hit by Accellion Hack

Transport for NSW, which is the main transport and roads agency in New South Wales, Australia, and NSW Health, the state’s ministry of health, are the latest confirmed victims of a cyber-attack targeting Accellion’s FTA file transfer service.

Transport for NSW, which is the main transport and roads agency in New South Wales, Australia, and NSW Health, the state’s ministry of health, are the latest confirmed victims of a cyber-attack targeting Accellion’s FTA file transfer service.

Transport for NSW says that some information was stolen before the attack on Accellion servers was interrupted and that an investigation is ongoing, but did not provide further details on the matter.

“Transport for NSW will ensure that any notification process for those affected will be clearly communicated and secure,” the company says.

In a statement related to the incident, Cyber Security NSW says that it is working with the NSW government to investigate the incident and assess the volume and value of data.

“Forensic analysis by industry specialists has established there was no third-party access to major agency systems including the Driver Licence systems, the Opal travel systems, or electronic medical records systems used by public hospitals,” Cyber Security NSW notes.

The cyber-incident happened in mid-December 2020, when a hacking group that FireEye’s Mandiant security researchers tracks as UNC2546 exploited an SQL injection flaw in FTA, which allowed it to deploy web shells and access customer data.

A total of four vulnerabilities in FTA were targeted in the attack, all of which have already been patched. However, Accellion is moving forth with plans to retire the service.

Designed to allow customers to transfer large files, FTA is over two decades old, and will no longer receive support past April 30, 2021. In December, Accellion served roughly 300 FTA customers, fewer than 100 of which were affected. However, up to 25 of them suffered significant data theft, the company says.

Transport for NSW and NSW Health are the latest organizations to have publicly confirmed the impact of the incident, after the U.S.-based grocery and pharmacy chain Kroger and law firm Jones Day made similar announcements over the past several days. To date, eight entities have confirmed impact from the incident.

Both Accellion and the affected customers have confirmed that the attackers only accessed data through the vulnerable FTA service, with no other systems being exposed.

The attackers, which FireEye linked to the TA505 spin-off FIN11, attempted to extort victims, threatening to share the stolen data publicly, and even following through with the threats in some cases.

With the looming end-of-life for FTA, Accellion continues to encourage customers to migrate to the enterprise content firewall platform kiteworks, promising free assistance during the transition.

Related: Over 1 Million Impacted by Data Breach at Washington State Auditor

Related: New Zealand Central Bank Says Accellion Service at Heart of Cyberattack

Related: Australian Corporate Regulator Discloses Breach Involving Accellion Software

Written By

Ionut Arghire is an international correspondent for SecurityWeek.

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