22 April 2021

International cyber attack takes the rise out of humble Bodalla bakery

| Michael Weaver
Start the conversation
The Bodalla Bakery

The Bodalla Bakery in the main street of the town came under attack during a worldwide cyberattack. Photo: File.

Bodalla Bakery owner Sharan Callender knew there was something awry with their social media feed just before Easter.

For a start, their location was no longer the heritage-listed main street of Bodalla. According to their Facebook and Instagram feed, the bakery had moved from the small South Coast town to Hanoi, Vietnam.

Their existence in Bodalla had disappeared. So had 14 years’ worth of followers, images and interactions.

The business was under siege.

“It was suddenly like we no longer existed,” Sharan told Region Media.

Bodalla Bakery Facebook page

The Bodalla Bakery’s Facebook page is still offline almost four weeks after the cyber attack. Photo: Screenshot.

The Bodalla Bakery wasn’t alone. It was one of 7 million accounts in Australia and an estimated 500 million more worldwide that had their data breached on 1 April.

However, it wasn’t an April Fool’s Day prank. Researchers analysing the data said the breach dated back to 2019.

Facebook said it had “found and fixed” the error, but it meant information held by Facebook had been made available on a hacking forum, making it widely available. Details included names, phone numbers, email addresses, account IDs and bios.

The bakery’s email account was also hit, most likely through a brute force attack where hackers use common passwords to access other online services using information held by Facebook.

Bodalla Bakery cake

One of the many amazing cakes Bodalla Bakery had posted on their Facebook page. Photo: Bodalla Bakery.

Luckily for Sharan and her husband, Dave, the bakery’s website was unaffected but it served as a timely warning to strengthen passwords and increase cybersecurity.

Their Facebook page – a key tool for any small business trying to communicate with customers – is still disabled almost four weeks after the attack.

“It leaves you feeling very vulnerable as it made our business look like we were the fraud,” Sharan said.

“We didn’t know what to do and how to recover what we’d lost as Facebook just takes you around in circles. It is pretty much impossible to speak with them.”

Sharan said she and her small team have had to restart the business’s social media profile while letting people know their enquiries weren’t being ignored.

READ ALSO How a Dalmeny teenager broke the halfpipe world record in Switzerland

“We’ve had to start afresh with a new email and have even gone back to telling people to ring us until we restore everything.

“Hopefully, we’ve got a great reputation and people will understand once we get back on social media.

“But as a business, social media is vital to us for showing the beautiful cakes we make here at the bakery.”

Sharan said they had learnt a valuable lesson about being vulnerable to cyber attacks – even in small pockets of the community like Bodalla.

“We spent more than a week trying to report what had happened, so it leaves you feeling pretty anxious,” Sharan said.

“We’re upgrading the security on our website to a much higher level. We thought we were safe but this has really exposed how vulnerable you can be.”

Start the conversation

Daily Digest

Do you like to know what’s happening around your region? Every day the About Regional team packages up our most popular stories and sends them straight to your inbox for free. Sign-up now for trusted local news that will never be behind a paywall.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.