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Australia’s Optus says up to 10 million customers caught in cyber attack

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A woman uses her mobile phone as she walks past an Optus store in Sydney, Australia, February 8, 2018. REUTERS/Daniel Munoz/File Photo

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SYDNEY (Reuters) – Australian telecom operator No. 2 Optus, owned by Singapore Telecom Limited (STEL.SI), said it would reach out to up to 10 million customers whose personal data was captured in a “complex” hack, but added that corporate customers were not compromised.

Optus CEO Kelly Beyer-Rosmarin said she was outraged and sorry that an outside entity had broken into the company’s database of customer information, accessing home addresses, driver’s license and passport numbers in one of the largest cybersecurity breaches in the country.

As many as 9.8 million accounts, equivalent to 40% of Australia’s population, could be hacked, but “this is the absolute worst case scenario (and) we have reason to believe the number is in fact lower,” Bayer-Rosmarin said.

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Bayer Rosmarine said corporate customers did not appear to be affected and there was no indication that the hacker had taken the customer’s bank account details or passwords. Police and cybersecurity authorities are still investigating the attack, which Optus reported to customers on Thursday.

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“We will specifically identify (affected) customers and proactively communicate with each customer with clear clarifications of their disclosed and captured information,” Bayer Rosmarin said in an online briefing Friday.

“I am angry because there are people who want to do this to our customers. I am disappointed that we were not able to prevent this … and I am very sorry,” she added.

She declined to give details of how the attacker breached the company’s security, citing an ongoing criminal investigation, but noted that the attacker’s IP address – a computer’s unique identifier – appeared to move between unspecified countries in Europe.

As a major telecom company, Optus has seen itself as a target for cyber attackers and has routinely fended off attempts to hack its systems but “this particular system is unlike anything we’ve seen before, and unfortunately it has been successful,” she said.

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(Byron Kay reports) Editing by Lincoln Fest.

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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