The Queensland government has revealed its centralised website for all state public sector purchasing was taken offline in the wake of a break-in by hackers.
The portal, the chief means through which all suppliers respond to departmental requests for tender, has been replaced by a holding page for at least the past several days.
"I am informed that the Queensland government's eTender site was the target of an external intrusion on or about June 14," Queensland Minister for Public Works, Housing and ICT Robert Schwarten said.
"I am advised that the intrusion was successful and had the potential to be malicious."
Schwarten said the intrusion was detected by staff and the site was taken offline immediately for repair, with the state initially forecasting it would be working again by Wednesday last week.
With the site down, the state has started publishing procurement documents such as requests for tender on the NSW state government's procurement website.
Officials from the Queensland government Chief Procurement Office, which sits within the Department of Public Works and administers the site, were not immediately able to comment, and Schwarten's office was not able to provide further details.
The news comes as governments around Australia are tightening their security to keep out electronic vandals.
The Northern Territory is now looking for an information technology services company to hack into its own computer network, in a test attack that will demonstrate how secure its systems are.
The territory's Department of Corporate and Information Services, which provides IT services across the whole government, recently went to market for consultants to review the architecture of its internet gateway, which manages all data traffic into and out of the public service.
James Turner, a security analyst at Intelligent Business Research Services, said penetration testing was widely used among organisations that took security very seriously. One of the key benefits was to get an outsider looking at security set-ups with fresh eyes.
— Australian Financial Review