Australia flags privacy review after major cyberattack on Optus

Australia flags privacy review after major cyberattack on Optus
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Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese speaks at the Sydney Energy Forum in Sydney, Australia, on 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 faster when they experience cyberattacks, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said on Monday, after hackers attacked the second largest telecommunications company in the country.

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

The attacker’s IP address, or a computer’s unique identifier, appeared to move between countries in Europe, the company said, but declined to detail how security was breached. Australian media reported that an unnamed party had demanded $1 million in crypto for the data in an online forum, but Optus has not commented on its authenticity.

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

“We want to make sure … that we change some of the privacy provisions there so that if people get caught in this way, it can be reported to the banks, so they can protect their customers as well,” he told the radio. 4BC station.

Cyber ​​security minister Clare O’Neil said Optus was responsible for the breach, noting that such failures in other jurisdictions would face hundreds of millions of dollars in fines, an apparent reference to European laws penalizing companies. with 4% of global revenue from privacy violations. . .

“An important question is whether the cybersecurity requirements we impose on large telecoms providers in this country are fit for purpose,” O’Neil told parliament.

Optus said it would offer hard-hit customers free credit monitoring and identity protection with credit bureau Equifax Inc. (EFX.N) for a year. He did not say how many customers the offer applied to.

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

Australia has been looking to bolster cyber defences, committing in 2020 to spend A$1.66bn ($1.1bn) over the decade to strengthen the network infrastructure of businesses and homes.

($1 = A$1.5309)

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

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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