ANU Hacked, China Accused of Data Privacy Breach


On the morning of June 4, 2019, the Australian National University revealed that it suffered from a massive data breach. The vice chancellor for ANU, Brian Schmidt, disclosed the university’s statement on the school’s website.

According to ZD Net, the privacy data breach occurred on May 17, 2019. The university website reports unauthorized access dating back to late 2018.


Compromised Information

“There was unauthorised access to significant amounts of personal staff, student and visitor data extending back 19 years,” said ANU. In a report by The Guardian, the Australian National University believes that illegal access harvested personal information. These include personal details such as names, dates of birth, addresses, phone numbers, and bank account details.

ANU Hacked, China Accused of Data Privacy Breach

Other information compromised in the hacking includes passport details, student academic records, and tax file numbers. The data breach also compromised personal email addresses and emergency contact details.


However, the ANU maintains that performance records, credit card details, medical records, and travel data remain unaffected. In addition, The Guardian reports that vehicle registration numbers, workers’ compensation, and police checks stay undisclosed.

Damage Control

Following the incident, the Australian National University states that it is working with numerous government security agencies. The university is also communicating with other similar security industry partners in investigating the issue.

BBC notes that the educational institution encountered a similar incident in 2018. After the privacy data breach in 2018, the school enacted system upgrades to employ enhanced protection. Without these upgraded systems, the academic institution “would not have detected this incident,” states Schmidt.

The academe, as well as cybersecurity experts, advise affected parties to report suspicious activities. Likewise, a change of password is in order. This advice lends itself towards individuals who have not changed their passwords since November 2018, state Canberra Times.

Blame Game

The recent attack on the academic institution is the second breach. This news comes shortly after the first incident happening in July 2018. Based on reports obtained by the university, officials state that the hacking incident is the work of a “sophisticated actor.”

Intelligence officials working with ANU point to China’s Beijing hackers as the root of this circumstance. Apart from having a history of hacking and stealing personal information, China also uses data for intelligence purposes, reports ABC. Authorities also fear that data mined by hackers will go towards recruiting students and university staff.

Despite these consistent allegations against China, the country strongly denies its ties to the incident.