Tuesday, 27 January 2009 20:32

NSW Government job website hacked

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The NSW Government has confirmed that a spammed scam job e-mail was actually sent to registered job seekers, with e-mail addresses stolen from their web site.

Just a fortnight ago I received a clearly fake job ad. The ad purported to be from jobs.nsw.gov.au, the official New South Wales (NSW) Government job portal.

The ad offered me a lucrative earning potential if I merely agreed to use Western Union to forward monies deposited into my bank account.

Obviously, this is a scam; the payments received are stolen funds. Were I to send money (retaining a commission) by Western Union the thieves would get away without a trace. By contrast, my bank account would be directly linked to the theft and it's what would be frozen!

Like you, I get masses of spam. I knew it wasn't from jobs.nsw.gov.au no matter how much it pretended to be. I deleted it figuring it was “just another” bit of junk mail, although I was surprised to find one purporting to be from the NSW Government job board; that was definitely a new one on me!

Had I thought about it deeper I might have considered this was no ordinary spam. This time there was a direct relationship between how the spammers got my e-mail address and the organisation they purported to represent.

It turns out the Department of Commerce has taken this whole incident very seriously indeed, and far more than common garden-variety spam would necessitate.

If you visit the site jobs.nsw.gov.au you will see it is inaccessible, and in fact, has been for a week. A message advises that the system is down for “system maintenance.”

It goes on to say that some registered job seekers have received spam e-mails advertising non-existent job vacancies and these ought to be deleted without replying.

“Jobs.NSW does not send e-mails regarding employment opportunities within the private sector, and people should be wary of receiving unsolicited e-mails claiming to be from the site.

“The Department of Commerce is currently looking into the matter and has alerted the relevant authorities.”

Coincidentally, the Government had released a request for tender for a supplier to take over all e-recruitment activities and relieve the state of this function. The tender closed yesterday and sought a provider to completely replace the Jobs.NSW site as well as cover all recruitment processes, with some 39,000 hires each year.

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David M Williams

David has been computing since 1984 where he instantly gravitated to the family Commodore 64. He completed a Bachelor of Computer Science degree from 1990 to 1992, commencing full-time employment as a systems analyst at the end of that year. David subsequently worked as a UNIX Systems Manager, Asia-Pacific technical specialist for an international software company, Business Analyst, IT Manager, and other roles. David has been the Chief Information Officer for national public companies since 2007, delivering IT knowledge and business acumen, seeking to transform the industries within which he works. David is also involved in the user group community, the Australian Computer Society technical advisory boards, and education.

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