Domain hit by cyber attack, warns users to be careful with rental inquiries

Real estate listings portal Domain is warning users to be careful when trying to secure rental properties on its website after a cyber attack allowed an unauthorised third party to access personal information and demand deposits.

Domain chief executive Jason Pellegrino has contacted the Australian Information Commissioner and other relevant authorities about the scam, but warned users that some personal information – such as phone numbers and email addresses – may have been obtained in the attack.

Domain CEO Jason Pellegrino warned users to be careful with property searches after revealing the company was subject to a phishing attack.Credit:Louise Kennerley

“We have identified a scam that used a phishing attack to gain access to Domain’s administrative systems to engage with people who have made rental property enquiries,” Mr Pellegrino said in an email, seen by The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age. “We understand the scammers then contacted some of these people by email to suggest that they pay a ‘deposit’ to secure a rental property on a website nominated by the scammer. Importantly, we have had no reports made by an individual directly to Domain who had fallen for the scam.

“There is a risk that some of your personal information may have been accessed by an unauthorised third party that has obtained access to Domain’s systems as a result of a scam targeting one of our systems,” he added. “It is not yet clear how many users were affected by the scam.”

Phishing is a type of cyber attack that uses emails to trick a user into providing personal data or other sensitive information. Mr Pellegrino said the company had security measures in place at the time of the attack and has implemented further measures to prevent damage. Only a small number of customers had made Domain aware of the scam, sources close to Domain said.

The sources also said other real-estate portals were now looking into whether the scammer had hacked their systems, too.

“We appreciate this can be concerning information to hear, and we are sorry for any stress or negative impact this causes you,” Mr Pellegrino said. “Unfortunately, since COVID, scams like these have been on the rise. It is disappointing for us to find out that after such a challenging past twelve months for many of us some see this as an opportunity to take advantage of others.”

Domain is 65 per cent owned by Nine Entertainment Co, owner of The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age. Nine was subject to a cyber attack which hit its broadcast systems in late March. Domain declined to comment further on the matter.

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