Nothing is safe. Not our phone numbers, medical insurance records or even our rental history because the latest data breach to hit a company in Australia has targeted a Melbourne real estate agency’s rental database.
International company Harcourts said in a statement on Thursday its rental property database was accessed by an “unknown third party without authorisation”.
Can renters catch a fkn break???
The rental database includes tenants’ names, addresses, emails, phone numbers, signatures and photo IDs. This is obviously especially bad because renters could be financially vulnerable people whom we must protect at all costs.
But it’s not all bad news because landlords’ names, emails, phone numbers, signatures and even bank details were also compromised. This is what happens when you’re in the habit of raising someone’s rent as much as 60 per cent in one swoop. Karma’s a bitch.
Harcourts said the breach only affected customers of the Melbourne City branch, which it estimated to be fewer than 1,000 people.
Harcourts Australia CEO Adrian Knowles said an investigation was underway.
“We are working together with the franchisee to ensure that all impacted individuals are advised of the incident,” he said.
“We have acted decisively to implement a comprehensive external investigation as well as a review of our systems and processes firm-wide. We have also notified the privacy commissioner of this breach.”
The Federal Government flagged the introduction of new data laws last month that will punish companies if their customers’ data is hacked. After the absolute shit show of the Optus data breach and then the Medibank fiasco, these laws cannot come soon enough.
If the laws pass, companies that get breached multiple times or are involved in serious breaches will be fined a flat $50 million, 30 per cent of the company’s turnover during the period in question, or three times the value of the stolen data. The current fine is just $2.2 million so fingers crossed this makes companies that are storing our data pull their socks up.