The biggest advertising-hacking scandal of all time has hit the advertising industry.
According to a report published by security firm Check Point, the Australian Government’s Office of the Auditor-General (OAG) has been unable to fully investigate its advertising industry’s “hacker” claims.
This, the report alleges, is due to the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) and the Australian Advertising Standards Authority (AASA) “bias” against advertising companies.
The OAG’s report is the second time in two months that the ABC has been hit with accusations of ad hacking.
Earlier this month, the ABC’s website and social media accounts were hacked by a Chinese-based group.
Check Point’s report also claims that the Australian Federal Police (AFP) and Department of Industry and Innovation (DII) have failed to investigate breaches of advertising industry policies and practices.
The ACMA has not commented on the report’s findings, although its chief executive, Michael McCormack, has previously defended the agency.
“The ACMA takes seriously the concerns raised by the ABC,” he said in a statement.
“We are reviewing the matter and will respond in due course.”
In March this year, the ACMA admitted to breaching the rules of conduct for commercial communications, stating that it had been “overly strict” with its advertising practices.
In a statement to the ABC, Mr McCormack said: “The fact is, we have not had any evidence to suggest that any of the breaches were attributable to any individual advertising person.”
Check Point said the breaches had been attributed to a group of people known as “AdGuard”.
It said the group had been operating in Australia since January this year.
The Australian Federal Government has been the target of a series of hacking attacks in recent months, including one that compromised the website of the ABC in May.
In September, the Federal Government revealed that the Department of Communications was being hacked as part of a governmentwide campaign to “prevent the spread of fake news”.
This was the first time the Australian government had publicly admitted to the involvement of a hacking group in the attack.
It is also the first such breach to involve a foreign government.
Check Points report also claimed that “ad hacking is a serious problem”.
It found that the ACMC had failed to enforce the ad industry’s advertising guidelines and the ABC had been violating its advertising policies, particularly by allowing its social media profiles to be used for ad targeting.
“Ad hacking is often conducted through the use of malware and other methods to gain access to internal commercial databases and databases of data,” the report said.
The group behind the attacks told Check Point that the attack had been conducted in response to the “trending trend of the US government being a target for ad hacking”.
Check Point also alleged that the campaign was being coordinated by “an unknown individual”, which it called “a foreign government”.
It also accused the ACCC of “overstepping its mandate to police the ad market”.