Some of Australia's most prominent businesses have been left unable to use their digital recruitment platforms, following a cyber attack on the system of a global HR software company.

PageUp, which claims on its website to have more than eight million users across 190 countries, revealed last Wednesday that its system had been accessed by “unauthorised person(s).”

“On May 23, 2018, PageUp detected unusual activity on its IT infrastructure and immediately launched a forensic investigation,” the statement reads.

“On May 28, 2018 our investigations revealed that we have some indicators that client data may have been compromised, a forensic investigation with assistance from an independent 3rd party is currently ongoing.”

The statement went on to urge users to change their passwords “out of an abundance of caution.”

It also revealed that local authorities had been contacted regarding the breach, including the Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC), Australia's Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT) and the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC).

OAIC also released a statement on the incident.

"The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner is aware of an incident involving PageUp People Limited, a provider of human resources services for a number of Australian entities," the statement reads.

"The OAIC is in contact with PageUp and the Australian Cyber Security Centre about the incident."

It went on the explain that the attack fell under the recent Notifiable Data Breaches scheme, which came into effect in February this year.

In wake of the breach, many notable Australian companies were left unable to use their PageUp-powered jobs sites, including Telstra, Medibank, NAB, Suncorp, ALDI, Macquarie Group, Target, Macquarie Group, Queensland Rail, Tasmanian Government, Commonwealth Bank and the ABC.

Macquarie Group is one business currently unable to use its job site. Source: Macquarie Group

Groceries giant Coles was also impacted by the incident, and forced to shutdown its site.

“Coles, which uses PageUp to manage job applications and candidate information, has suspended all connections between Coles’ systems and PageUp’s systems,” it states.

“We recommend that any person who has applied online for a position with Coles in the past 18 months check to ensure that there has been no recent unusual activity concerning their personal information and maintain a close watch on the use of their personal information.”

At the time of writing, the site was still down.

PageUp responds

PageUp has since given more information on the scope of the attack, in a statement released on 12 June.

“While investigations continue, on the balance of probabilities, we believe certain personal data relating to our clients, placement agencies, applicants, references and our employees has been accessed,” the statement confirms.

“Some employee usernames and passwords may have been accessed, however current password data is protected using industry best practice techniques including hashing and salting and therefore is considered to be of very low risk to individuals.

“No employment contracts, applicant resumes, Australian tax file numbers, credit card information or bank account information were affected. No data contained in our Onboarding, Performance, Learning, Compensation or Succession Modules was affected.”

PageUp then went on to explain, “we have confirmed that the threat on our systems has been contained and eradicated. You can continue to use the PageUp system.”

And while PageUp encouraged customers to return to its now “safe to use” system, it seems the HR software company has a way to go in gaining back the trust of users.

The ABC still has its careers page disabled, despite acknowledging PageUp’s most recent update.

The website states, “until we understand more about the nature and extent of the security incident the ABC has suspended the use of this service as a precautionary measure.”

“We are working through a new process, separate to PageUp, to ensure we can protect candidate data. As soon as this is operational, we will resume advertising vacant roles. In the meantime we cannot accept any applications.”