Vigilance urged after Harvey Water email hacking scam

Jacinta CantatoreHarvey-Waroona Reporter
A copy of the scam email.
Camera IconA copy of the scam email.

WA’s consumer affairs agency is warning South West residents to be vigilant after the region’s peak irrigation co-operative was targeted by an email scam.

Hundreds of customers, contractors and locals were contacted by a hacker posing as a Harvey Water employee, asking email recipients to open a fake invoice.

This attempt is in addition to the 23 people and companies in WA who have been affected by hacking scams this year, 12 of these reporting a combined loss of more than $45,000.

With more people across WA now working from home, Consumer Protection is urging companies and employees to make sure their home network is secure.

Harvey Water CEO Bruce Hathway said data systems had not been breached and staff quickly secured the affected email accounts.

“The actual data in our system does not appear to be impacted, the intention seems to have been more to send out scam emails to capture victims,” Mr Hathway said.

He said the breach occurred after an employee’s email was hacked and their contact list captured. Hackers then created a fake email account posing as a Harvey Water officer and sent emails to all the employee’s contacts.

Email recipients were asked to click a link which would have then been used to “phish” for personal data.

The affected email account was secured and Harvey Water has put in place additional security measures.

“We urge people to be vigilant when looking at emails, if it doesn’t look familiar or the information and questions are suspicious, it’s best to contact the company and check,” Mr Hathway said.

Consumer Protection South West regional coordinator Annetta Bellingeri warned people and businesses to be vigilant.

“These scams involve hacking into someone’s email account or computer system but it can be difficult to determine exactly where the hack has occurred,” she said.

Ms Bellingeri said businesses needed to regularly review their cyber security and office practices to minimise the risk of scams.

“With many people working from home at the moment, they need to ensure that a secured network is being used and they have up-to-date virus protection software.”

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