Australian gov’t urges telecommunications company to help protect hack victims

The Australian government has accused the country’s giant telecommunications provider of failing to help customers affected by a major data breach.

Home Affairs and Cyber Security Minister Clare O’Neil and Bill Shorten, minister for Government Services, on Sunday called on Optus to help the government protect those affected by the breach, Xinhua news agency reported.

In September, Optus revealed it was hit by a cyber attack that compromised the information of up to 10 million current and former customers in one of the biggest data breaches in Australian history.

Services Australia has requested the full details of all customers whose information was compromised in order to bolster security measures but the government said on Sunday it is still awaiting a response.

“In the face of a breach on an unprecedented scale in Australia, Optus needs to come together with the Australian government to be part of the solution,” O’Neil and Shorten said in a joint statement.

“This is a security breach that should not have occurred, but what’s really important here is that we row in the same direction and do everything we can to stop financial crime against Australians,” said O’Neil.

It remains unknown how many of the 10 million customers had their identity details stolen in the attack but the purported hackers released those of 10,000 people.

The Australian Federal Police (AFP) on Friday launched an operation to protect those victims.

Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus said on Sunday that the breach should act as a wake up call for corporate Australia, flagging stricter privacy laws.

“Companies throughout Australia should stop regarding all of this personal data of Australians as an asset for them, they actually should think of it as a liability,” he told Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) television.

“I may be bringing reforms to the Privacy Act before the end of the year to try and toughen penalties and make companies think hard about why they are storing the personal data of Australians.

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