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Fairfax bunkers down after alleged hack

Privacy Commissioner wakes up

Website security in corporate America

Two Fairfax sites remain offline this morning after they were apparently compromised, with the possible loss of credit card information.

As reported in Australia’s SC Magazine, the intruders claimed to have obtained 10,000 unencrypted credit cards. The sites impacted are Herald Education and the Young Writer of the Year.

Since the attack, the Australian Privacy Commissioner has stirred, opening an investigation into the incident.

“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,” the Commsioner, Tim Pilgrim, stated.

Fairfax told SC Magazine the attack related to “a small number of sites that are hosted by external providers”, and denied any impact on the company’s major Sydney Morning Herald or The Age mastheads.

The two affected sites resolve to IP addresses apparently administered by Bulletproof Networks Hosting (this does not, however, identify who was responsible for administering the security of the affected servers).

The Register has asked Fairfax’s company secretary, Gail Hambly, why the company has apparently not considered it necessary to advise the Australian Securities Exchange of the apparent attack.

SC Magazine also claims that CCV (card code verification) numbers were stored in the databases accessed by the intruders – something which would breach normal security practices for credit card merchants. ®

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