Optus data breach ‘huge wake-up call’: PM


The Optus data breach is a “huge wake-up call”, the prime minister says, as the government prepares to unveil new cybersecurity protections.

Cyber Security Minister Clare O’Neil is set to announce the measures after she said that changes were needed to how companies protected customer data.

Optus revealed last Thursday that it had been the target of a cyberattack that exposed the personal information of up to 9.8 million Australians, including details such as driver’s licence and passport numbers.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said new protections would mean banks and other institutions would be informed much faster when a data breach happened so personal data could not be used.

“This is a huge wake-up call for the corporate sector in terms of protecting the data,” he told Brisbane radio 4BC on Monday.

“We know that in today’s world there are actors – some state actors but also some criminal organisations – who want to get access to people’s data.”

Opposition home affairs spokeswoman Karen Andrews will introduce a private member’s bill on Monday to strengthen laws and make penalties tougher.

It includes a standalone offence for all forms of cyber extortion, with convictions resulting in up to 10 years in prison, and a new offence for cybercriminals who target critical infrastructure such as phone networks, which would carry up to 25 years’ jail.

Opposition cybersecurity spokesman James Paterson criticised Ms O’Neil’s response to the news of the attack and said Optus “owed their customers a full explanation and a genuine apology”.

“It’s appropriate that when there’s an investigation going on that they follow the AFP’s advice, but that should not be used as an excuse not to be completely upfront with the public about how this happened and who’s responsible for it, when those facts are known,” he said.

Optus chief executive Kelly Bayer Rosmarin said: “We are devastated to discover that we have been subject to a cyberattack that has resulted in the disclosure of our customers’ personal information to someone who shouldn’t see it.”


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