Australia marks privacy overhaul after massive cyber attack on Optus

Australia marks privacy overhaul after massive cyber attack on Optus
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Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese speaks at the Sydney Energy Forum in Sydney, Australia, July 12, 2022. Brook Mitchell/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo

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SYDNEY, Sept 26 (Reuters) – Australia plans to tighten privacy rules to force companies to notify banks more quickly when they encounter cyber attacks, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said on Monday after hackers targeted the country’s second-largest telecoms firm.

Optus is owned by Singapore Telecoms Ltd (STEL.SI)last week he talked down to home addresses, driver’s licenses and passport numbers 10 million customersor nearly 40% of the population was compromised in one of Australia’s largest data breaches.

The attacker’s IP address, or the computer’s unique identifier, appears to have moved between European countries, the company said, but declined to elaborate on how the security was breached. Australian media reported that an unknown party demanded $1 million in cryptocurrency for information on an online forum, but Optus did not comment on its authenticity.

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Albanese called the incident a “huge wake-up call” for the corporate sector, saying there are some state actors and criminal groups who want access to people’s data.

“We want to make sure that … we change some of the privacy provisions in there so that if people are caught like this, the banks are notified so they can protect their customers,” he said. 4BC.

Cybersecurity Minister Clare O’Neil said Optus was responsible for the breach and noted that in other jurisdictions such breaches would be met with hundreds of millions of dollars in fines, an apparent reference to European laws that fine companies 4% of global revenue for privacy breaches. .

“An important question is whether the cyber security requirements we have placed on the major telecommunications providers in this country are fit for purpose,” O’Neil told parliament.

Optus said it would offer free credit monitoring and identity protection with credit agency Equifax Inc to the most affected customers. (EFX.N) for one year. It was not reported how many customers the offer applies to.

The telco has now alerted all customers whose driving licenses or passport numbers have been stolen in an emailed statement. Payment details and account passwords were not compromised, it added.

Australia is looking to strengthen its cyber defences, pledging in 2020 to spend A$1.66 billion (US$1.1 billion) over ten years to strengthen the network infrastructure of firms and homes.


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Reporting by Lewis Jackson, Renju Jose and Byron Kaye; Edited by Stephen Coates, Clarence Fernandez and Sam Holmes

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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