Hackers hijack Optus Internet customer accounts

Hackers have hijacked the account details of 400,000 Optus Internet dial-up customers launching the biggest computer crime investigation undertaken by the NSW Police.

Both Optus and the NSW Police have confirmed the hack attack in which the entire customer database and account details were hijacked on December 19.

But an Optus spokeswoman denied credit card details were stolen, adding that the information couldn't be compromised in any way, because it was encrypted.

However, reliable sources have told Computerworld that credit card details were stolen, and that details were posted on the Internet for about four hours.

"Optus doesn't use a single field for the information; it breaks it up into separate fields, but it can still be used," a source said.

One Optus customer has had more than $500 stolen from a credit card account, but the spokeswoman said the two incidents were unrelated. After the December incident occurred, the telco e-mailed its entire Internet database advising customers to change their passwords and user names, the spokeswoman said.

A spokeswoman at the NSW Police Media Unit confirmed the investigation is under way and is being handled by the Commercial Crime Agency, but was unable to release details because investigations were continuing.

She said the Police had a number of good leads simply stating that, "we can confirm there is an investigation under way involving Optus".

IT security consultancy E-Secure Pty Ltd is providing technical support in the investigation, but could not comment due to strict nondisclosure agreements.

The company's general manager of sales and marketing, John Paul Burgess said E-Secure does a lot of work with Optus, but was unwilling to discuss recent security breaches.

According to sources, the NSW Police has been able to narrow the investigation down to three or four computers in South East Asia and is close to a breakthrough in the case, but Optus denied the claims.

The Optus spokeswoman said that as a "responsible corporate citizen" customers were advised of the hack attack and also advised Police were undertaking extensive investigations.

"An e-mail was sent to customers advising them to update their passwords," she said.

Computerworld was unable to find documentation supporting this although the spokeswoman said the media were also advised.

When asked for a copy of the media statement the spokeswoman said some media were advised "verbally".

The spokeswoman also rejected claims in information obtained by Computerworld that Optus customer details had been hacked four times in the past year.

Computerworld understands that sections of data were obtained in a number of hacks over a period of 12 months, before all Internet customer details were taken on December 19.

While refuting these claims as untrue, the Optus spokeswoman said, "The last time we were attacked [before December 19] was two years ago."

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Sandra Rossi

Show Comments

Cool Tech

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?