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Smoke alarm company cyber attack sees over 700k documents stolen

By Jack Campbell
19 April 2024 | 10 minute read
smoke alarm reb

A cyber attack has resulted in the loss of 762,856 documents, with a total size of 107GB. There are fears the use of this data could be use to create further issues for customers.

Smoke Alarm Solutions was the victim, Australia’s largest smoke alarm installation and service provider. According to reports, the publicly exposed files contained customer information, including detailed invoices, records of inspections, estimates, compliance reports, electrical safety inspections, service quotes, and service reports.

The leak documented company transactions and consumer activities, with 355,384 documents marked as invoices, dating from 2021 to 2024. Meanwhile, 24,632 documents were listed as “on site quotes” that contained the names and email addresses of the business, agent, or individual obtaining a quote. These figures provide an insight into just how many people may potentially be affected.

Furthermore, according to vpnMentor, each of the documents “appeared to be unique,” meaning there were possibly no duplicates, making the attack all the more concerning.

With all properties in Australia legally required to have smoke alarms installed, the potential to affect a large proportion of individuals is huge.

A technology consultant representing Smoke Alarm Solutions, said: “We are aware of this data store. Its state is the unfortunate side effect of some work by a previous system integrator. We are actively migrating to a new customer management platform. We will block all access (or more likely, decommission) this data store as soon as we have migrated the data to our new platform”.

However, according to vpnMentor, “the records were still accessible nearly 2 months after my first responsible disclosure notice. I sent numerous follow-up emails including official support links to information on how to restrict public access to the database and finally the database was secured. It is unclear how long the documents were exposed or who else may have gained access to them. Only an internal forensic audit conducted by Smoke Alarm Solutions could identify this information.”

While seemingly an unusual target for cyber criminals, the smoke alarm industry in Australia is estimated to generate $4 billion annually.

With invoice scams becoming a real issue across the country, companies like Smoke Alarm Solutions could become target for these types of attacks.

The ACCC urged Aussies to check payment details directly with businesses before paying an email invoice. With 2023 seeing $16.2 million lost in payment redirection scams, this message is as important as ever.

“Scammers are sophisticated criminals and are becoming more targeted in how they exploit Australian consumers and businesses,” ACCC Deputy Chair Catriona Lowe said.

“These criminals are posing as genuine businesses that a consumer has recently dealt with, sending fake invoices with altered payment details so that the money ends up with the scammer. This scam is hard to detect because the scammer will either hack into the email system of the business or impersonate the business’ email address by changing as little as one letter,” Ms Lowe said.

According to the ACCC, there are three considerations that should be made to protect yourself from these types of scams:

1. STOP – Don’t rush to act. Take the time to call the business you are dealing with – using independently sourced contact details – to check the payment details are correct.
2. THINK – Ask yourself if you really know who you are communicating with? Scammers can make invoices appear legitimate by copying logos and ABNs. Scammers can send emails that appear to be from the business you have been dealing with – only changing banking details on invoices.
3. PROTECT – Act quickly if something feels wrong. If you have shared financial information or transferred money, contact your bank immediately. Help others by reporting to Scamwatch.

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