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  • Kyle Chua

Australia's Telstra Blames Internal Error For Privacy Breach

Australian telecommunications giant Telstra suffered from a privacy breach that affected more than a hundred thousand customers.

Credit: Reuters

According to Reuters, the mobile network provider disclosed the breach on Sunday, 11 December, blaming a "misalignment of databases" for what led to the details of 132,000 customers being made publicly available via the Directory Assistance service or the online version of White Pages. The impacted details included names, numbers and addresses of customers.


Telstra Chief Financial Officer Michael Ackland said the impacted customer details are already being pulled from the aforementioned services. He also apologised for the breach, assuring customers that it was due to an internal error, not a cyber-attack.


“For the customers impacted we understand this is an unacceptable breach of your trust,” he said. "We’re sorry it occurred, and we know we have let you down."


Telstra is in the process of contacting impacted customers to let them know what has happened and to provide free services that would help combat identity theft.


"We are conducting an internal investigation to better understand how it happened and to protect against it happening again," added Mr Ackland.


The privacy breach comes just a few months after Optus, another Australian telco, was targeted by hackers, compromising the personal data of up to 10 million customers. The impacted data included customer names, dates of birth, contact details, passport and driver's licence numbers, among others. Samples of the stolen data were later published in an online forum, where a hacker demanded a ransom.

Australian Home Affairs Minister Clare O’Neil. Credit: The Syndney Morning Herald

Some experts claim it was one of, if not, the worst data breaches in Australia's history.


The incident prompted the country's lawmakers to scrutinise how service providers in the telco and finance sectors handle customer data, with tougher cybersecurity laws said to be now in consideration. Home Affairs Minister Clare O’Neil is also planning to organise a body of experts to devise a cybersecurity strategy to prevent another high-profile attack.

 
  • Telstra disclosed a privacy breach that led to the details of 132,000 customers being made publicly available.

  • The impacted details included names, numbers and addresses of unlisted customers.

  • The Australian telco has since apologised for the breach, assuring customers that it was due to an internal error, not a cyber-attack.

  • The privacy breach comes just a few months after Optus, another Australian telco, was targeted by hackers, compromising the personal data of up to 10 million customers.

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