By BRUCE Piper
EVERYBODY in the Australian travel industry would completely understand it if the entire APT Travel Group (ATG) management team checked themselves in for some well-deserved mental health therapy this month.
Just when we all thought things couldn’t possibly get worse — after a string of bad news announcements including the Federal Budget, Qantas commission cuts and the bungled vaccine rollout — came the shock confirmation that amidst all this ATG had been the victim of a “cyber intrusion”.
As with all incidents like this details are rightly scant, but my reading of the situation is that, as has happened previously to many other organisations with significant IT infrastructure, this involved a phishing email allowing hackers to gain access to the ATG network.
The company has admitted to “assessing reports that a very small proportion of ATG data has been downloaded” and it’s also possible, that as with similar incidents in other companies, the intrusion has seen an unconfirmed so-called “ransomware” demand for a Bitcoin payment to have encrypted systems unlocked.
Whatever the finer points are, there’s no doubt that this attack could not have come at a worse time for an industry which is already on its knees — and on top of that it coincided with the snap Melbourne lockdown, leaving ATG staff unable to work remotely but also without access to emails or phones.
ATG is cooperating with privacy regulators and working to restore its systems as quickly as possible. Customers have been urged to remain vigilant against any scam emails purporting to be from any of its brands. And most likely by the time you are reading this things will be back to normal.
The company’s response has been utterly professional, but I’m sure behind the scenes there has been plenty of well-justified angst and cries of “how much more can we take?” To Chris Hall and the ATG team, all we can say is that we feel your pain. I’m sure it is cold comfort, but let’s hope that the old platitude “that which does not kill me makes me stronger” proves to be true for you all.
After all this surely your company must be set to emerge from the pandemic looking just like the Incredible Hulk.