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'Crypto-ransomware' scam email brings down ABC News 24

A scam email was enough to bring down Australia's national broadcaster, with ABC News 24's Sydney studios being compromised by a "crypto-ransomware attack".

Claire Reilly Former Principal Video Producer
Claire Reilly was a video host, journalist and producer covering all things space, futurism, science and culture. Whether she's covering breaking news, explaining complex science topics or exploring the weirder sides of tech culture, Claire gets to the heart of why technology matters to everyone. She's been a regular commentator on broadcast news, and in her spare time, she's a cabaret enthusiast, Simpsons aficionado and closet country music lover. She originally hails from Sydney but now calls San Francisco home.
Expertise Space, Futurism, Science and Sci-Tech, Robotics, Tech Culture Credentials
  • Webby Award Winner (Best Video Host, 2021), Webby Nominee (Podcasts, 2021), Gold Telly (Documentary Series, 2021), Silver Telly (Video Writing, 2021), W3 Award (Best Host, 2020), Australian IT Journalism Awards (Best Journalist, Best News Journalist 2017)
Claire Reilly
2 min read

Screenshot by Claire Reilly/CNET

ABC's dedicated 24-hour news channel was knocked off the air yesterday after the broadcaster's Sydney studio fell victim to an "IT security issue" caused by ransomware.

According to a statement from the national broadcaster, ABC News 24's broadcast was affected for roughly half an hour yesterday, causing an interruption to the station's live news programming.

"There was an IT security issue this morning which affected some of the ABC's broadcasting systems and created technical difficulties for ABC News 24," the ABC said in a statement yesterday.

"As a result, we broadcast stand-by programming from 9:30 a.m. before resuming live news broadcasts from Melbourne at 10:00 a.m.

"We are now operating normally."

The problem was caused by a "crypto-ransomware attack" that came via a phishing email, allegedly originating from Russia. The email, purporting to be from Australia Post, emerged as a threat in July with Australia Post issuing a warning to customers to ignore emails from scam email addresses.

The scam email advises customers that "a courier did not deliver" a parcel to the customer's address, and that Australia Post "will have the right to claim compensation" for storing the unclaimed package. Clicking on the links in the email can result in a malicious virus 'taking over' a user's computer, with hackers requesting a ransom to regain access to files.

The email was sent from a number of addresses including info@aust-post.com, infor@aus-post.info, info@aus-post.biz, info@auspost.biz, info@aust-post.net and info@aut-post.com. At the time, Australia Post warned customers to immediately delete any suspicious emails -- advice that has now been reiterated in light of the recent incident with ABC News 24.