Austrailian telecommunications company, Optus, was hit by one of Australia’s biggest data breaches in history. The company has stated that the home addresses, passport numbers, and divers’ licenses of around 10 million customers were compromised. The hacker briefly released the records of 10,200 people as well as demanding $1 million in cryptocurrency for the data. This breach could have an effect on 40% of Australia’s total population and could leave many users at a heightened risk of fraud.
Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said the incident was “a huge wake up call” to the corporate sector regarding data protection. Albanese also hinted at potential changes to privacy provisions which would allow banks to move faster to protect their customers after a breach like this occurs.
Australian Cybersecurity Minister Clare O’Neil says that Optus is responsible for the breach and questions whether the cybersecurity requirements that they place on telecommunications companies in Australia are fit for purpose. The country has been looking to improve their cyber defenses and in 2020, they pledged to spend $1.1 billion over the decade to strengthen the network infrastructure of homes and firms.
Optus has stated that it would offer affected customers free credit monitoring and identity protection with Equifax Inc for a year. The company has alerted those whose licenses or passport numbers were stolen and added that payment details and account passwords were not compromised.