Telco incommunicado

[vc_row css_animation=”” row_type=”row” use_row_as_full_screen_section=”no” type=”full_width” angled_section=”no” text_align=”left” background_image_as_pattern=”without_pattern”][vc_column][vc_column_text]The sure sign of a story reaching epic proportions is when satirical humourists on the national broadcaster start laying in like they did on Question Everything (ABC) last week. The jokes were funny but not if you are one of the 9 million (maybe more) current or historical Optus customers that had been effected by a significant data breach.

On September 22, or thereabouts, Optus was a victim of a cyberattack that was detected, in house, after some ‘unusual activity’. The information stolen was from the 100 points of ID customers had used to apply for Optus accounts including full name, date of birth, phone number, email addresses and more worrying, home addresses, passport and licence numbers. No passwords or any payment information was retrieved.

Customers were put on high alert early, to note any suspicious activity on their accounts and any notifications that could be asking for information from a source unknown or a fake account. Account holders were told to stay informed, complete a credit check, change Medicare details and apply for a new licence.

CEO, Kelly Bayer Rosmarin, expressed deep disappointment following the cyberattack because she understands that data breaches in Australia are ever increasing despite the heavy investment companies are making to protect customers. Following the initial communication and press releases from Optus regarding the attack and assurances that customers effected would be contacted, the company is suffering from ‘too many cooks’ and not enough resources. Some customers were contacted via text by Optus 10 days after initial reports of an attack that some of their data may have been compromised but customers are wondering, is that it? How do I know if my data has been sold?

Important note, Optus believes that approximately 2.1 million customers have had at least one identifying document exposed on the darkweb, a significant downgrade from 9 million effected customers. The “scope and scale” of the attack meant multiple regulatory bodies were engaged including the AFP, CIA, Office of the Australian Information Commission and licensing authorities. Most recently, Optus have engaged Deloitte to undertake a forensic review of the attack.

The identity of the hacker seems to have been exposed to authorities because following the monetary threat of unleashing all of the information sourced for a ransom, they reportedly deleted the data. According to one cybersecurity expert, the vulnerability that exposed the data was so obvious that they were open to other attackers too, so they don’t know if ‘Optusdata’ is the only hacker.

The most incredible part of this story is that the second largest telecommunications company in the country is at pains to communicate with its own customers regarding a breach on their privacy. The government is calling on Optus to better manage this crisis but it is obvious that the legislation to protect consumers and hold companies to account for cyber vulnerability are sorely lacking. If these attacks are inevitable then surely the communication with customers and efforts to reduce the fall out should be streamlined through company and government policy.

The Guardian released a Full Story podcast to assess if Optus is negligent and investigate if this was an unsophisticated attack or the work of a technical guru. Cybersecurity is a treacherous and ever changing space, stay vigilant and smart in regards to your digital identity and your online presence.

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Faster Networks help businesses protect their digital assets. We are a cyber security partner that brings the best software solutions that anticipate and fix digital vulnerabilities. Our areas of expertise includes Vulnerability Management, Security Orchestration Automation and Response (SOAR), Application Security, Infrastructure Security, Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) Protection and Application Pentesting.

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