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Data breach

Australia's Emergency Warning Network hacked: Thousands receive spam alerts.

On January 5, 2019, the Emergency Warning Network (EWN) of Australia was hacked, and tens of thousands of people across Australia received spam messages via text, email, and landline. The message sent from the EWN warned "EWN has been hacked. Your personal data is not safe. Trying to fix the security issues." It also gave users a fake email address alongside a prompt to unsubscribe.

What happened?

EWN said a hacker accessed its system and sent the messages via text, email, and landline to its users in the database. EWN staff were able to identify the attack quickly and shut off its systems, limiting the amount of messages sent out. Unfortunately, a small amount of the residents in the database received this spam alert. The company urged residents not to click the links and to delete the message.

EWN is used by local, state, and federal governments to alert Australians of emergency situations, and the database holds email addresses as well as mobile and home phone numbers of residents. The company said its warning system remained fully operational during the breach and Queensland Police and the Australian Cyber Security Centre were notified.

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