Fumbling thumbs have been blamed for a software glitch that caused claims of a major security breach to be made on the floor of Parliament after the email and calendar of several MP's was exposed across the parliamentary computer system.
Several MPs including Federal Member for Hume Alby Schultz complained to the Department of Parliamentary Service last Thursday that their private information was accessible, something he called a "serious security breach" and that sparked fears Parliament House computers had been hacked.
But the truth, investigations revealed, was rather more everyday. The MP's involved did not know how to use their email system correctly.
Mr Schultz told The Age he became aware of the potential problem when the staffer of another MPs office informed him that his calendar could be seen from her computer. The staff member's access to his calendar was also removed at the same time, he said.
"It was a very serious security matter and I asked the department if it was a glitch or was it an event due to persons hacking into the parliamentary system," he said.
Mr Schultz raised the issue in Parliament today with the deputy speaker after he was unsatisfied with the DPS's response.
But Department of Parliamentary Service acting secretary Russell Grove said there was no evidence of hacking and that the issue only affected a small number of member's computers. He said the email service allows users to nominate access to multiple users and that is what he believes occurred.
"People need to be careful and read the instructions and this is why it occurred. It's not a system-wide issue," he said.
The DPS sent out instructions to all 5000 users of the parliamentary computer system on Friday, informing them how to use the Outlook email and calendar system, including how to invite or remove access to third parties.
The parliamentary computer system was recently updated with new software, which was originally blamed for the so-called glitch.
Mr Schultz said Mr Grove's assurance was "nonsense" and that he remained concerned about MPs privacy and security.
"If, for instance, the breach reaches out to a minister of the crown, and there are people out with an axe to grind who could access the minster's calendar...that would expose the minister to undue problems.
"I just want an assurance that everything has been fixed and that security of member's computers are as safe as humanly possible."