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Hacker's email raises minister's hackles

Date

Anna Patty

Public school teachers tweeted that it was ''too good to be true'' after an email claiming to be from the NSW director-general of education censured the O'Farrell government's cuts to the education budget.

A hacker had infiltrated the email account of the director-general, Michele Bruniges, and sent a message to all Education Department staff that the funding cuts to public education would put further stress on teaching staff and education standards, the Minister for Education, Adrian Piccoli, said.

''It is an injustice that pledges made by the O'Farrell [government] at the last election regarding education in NSW have not been kept and that infrastructure in NSW is being given a higher priority than public education,'' the email says.

''The protests sent to my office are noted but should be directed to the ministers responsible as this office has not been involved in the construction of these visions and is only the conduit for delivery.

''Staff may not formally contact the media or the minister's office directly but students and family members are free to exercise their rights of free speech should they choose to do so.''

Yesterday, Mr Piccoli told Parliament that the director-general's email account had been hacked and the person responsible could face criminal charges.

Greg Prior, who is the acting director-general while Dr Bruniges is on leave, sent another email to all department staff to say the email claiming to be from Dr Bruniges was a fake.

He said the department's IT section was investigating ''this very serious breach''.

''I wish to state that these emails were not written or endorsed by the director-general or any of her staff,'' Mr Prior said.

Mr Piccoli, who has faced criticism from teachers and principals over the government's decision to cut $1.7 billion from the education budget over four years, said the person responsible for the computer hacking could face criminal charges.

Mr Piccoli said he was angry and offended that Dr Bruniges had been misrepresented.

''Hacking people's computers is a crime,'' he said. ''And so is, I believe, misrepresenting yourself as somebody else and you can be assured that the Department of Education will take every measure it can to find the person or people who have done this.

''Those people ought to not underestimate my determination that they be found and be punished in the most severe way possible.''

The NSW Teachers' Federation announced last month that it would stage a community action day in the city and in regional areas next month to protest against the education budget cuts.

14 comments

  • Nobody's blaming Abbott yet. Thought I would get in first.

    Commenter
    Paul
    Location
    Sydney
    Date and time
    October 26, 2012, 12:26PM
    • Yeah, we get it.

      Because if people start believing that Tony Abbot is being blamed for everything, then they might not pay attention to the completely valid criticism he receives ... isn' that right?

      Nice try, Paul.

      Commenter
      Vanilla
      Date and time
      October 26, 2012, 5:25PM
    • No need, there's plenty of real stuff to blame Abbott for, not need to make stuff up.

      Commenter
      Bob
      Date and time
      October 26, 2012, 6:36PM
  • It is a shame the email was a fake - I loved it! It was really nice to agree with the Director General for a change. The shame of it is, she probably agrees with what the hacker has said, but can't say it as she'll be made to walk the plank!

    Commenter
    teacher
    Location
    Newcastle
    Date and time
    October 26, 2012, 2:38PM
    • True, teacher. Bullying in the public service goes all the way to the top. If anything, the email should have put it more bluntly, not only in terms of funding cuts, but the mess Piccoli is making of education.

      Commenter
      The Genuine Article
      Date and time
      October 27, 2012, 9:37PM
  • The email could easily have been sent without any hacking required. Much like writing someone elses address as the sender for regular mail. Its a fairly simple task to mask the originating email address.

    Commenter
    Craigan
    Location
    Sydney
    Date and time
    October 26, 2012, 4:35PM
    • Craigan, you have to get inside the network to be able to gain access to the DLs so you can send the emails out. It isn't like sending out spam to ordinary Internet users who aren't hidden in a VPN behind some fairly good security.

      This could NOT be easily done.

      Commenter
      Chris
      Date and time
      October 26, 2012, 6:13PM
    • This is true, but keep in mind, this is a government organization, they probably still have meetings tabled on how to tackle the Y2K bug and what consultants to hire to address said issue at an exorbitant fee as opposed to having that person on salary working directly for the government in a permanent role.

      Commenter
      mikerochiii
      Date and time
      October 27, 2012, 12:13PM
  • I just love this, let's see.......He will make budget savings through 1.7 billion in cutbacks on unnecessary expenses such as school SAS members, but, and here is the clincher, he is well and truly miffed now so, "you can be assured that the Department of Education will take every measure it can to find the person or people who have done this.". Then once he finds the alleged perpetrators "''Those people ought to not underestimate my determination that they be found and be punished in the most severe way possible.''
    Now if I understand this correctly, he'll save thousands from my children's education on cutbacks and then he'll go and spend thousands more on prosecuting someone because he is personally offended. This coalition government has gone absolutely mad.
    How long in the 4 year term to go before we can kick them out?
    A very disgruntled Parent and high School teacher here.

    Commenter
    rubencan
    Location
    Illawong
    Date and time
    October 26, 2012, 7:48PM
    • It is a pity that I can't say what I think (And know, about anything) as a professional educator working for the State Government. Because it is exactly what the public citizenry need to hear. I will shut up now before I'm reminded that we don't live in a democracy and my employment is terminated.

      Commenter
      re_fuse
      Location
      Warren
      Date and time
      October 27, 2012, 5:44AM

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