BigPond slow to react to user accounts breach

Telstra BigPond had a delayed reaction to news that 69 of its users had their login details splashed across a number of public forums over the weekend.

BigPond took around seven hours from the time it was first notified of a breach in security to notify its customers about the problem.

According to the administrator of self-proclaimed "nerd news site" Core.org.au, the forum received a list of 69 Telstra BigPond usernames and passwords on Saturday at around 1:30pm. After contacting Telstra to confirm the validity of the list and notify the carrier of the breach, the administrator noted that it took seven hours before Telstra informed its customers that their accounts had been compromised.

By that time, the list itself had been published on the Core website, before the administrator received threats of litigation, resulting in the list details being modified. However, the list had already been picked up by a number of other individuals who continued to propagate the details throughout various mailing lists and forums.

Contention reigns over how the usernames and passwords were actually retrieved. The original list was passed onto Core via an individual known as "Oxyg3n", sparking the idea that Telstra's servers had been hacked. However, the official line from Telstra, after it warned customers that their usernames and passwords may have been "intercepted by unauthorised parties", was that a Trojan virus was responsible for the breach.

According to Telstra, the Trojan had made its way into the system via a single user, and collected the usernames and passwords before delivering them back to the original user infected with the virus.

The Australian broadband users' website, Whirlpool, quickly picked up on the news from Core, and issued its visitors with a warning to change their passwords. Whirlpool, along with a number of other mailing list subscribers, also confirmed that the login details that were published were in fact valid.

"A reliable source (who wishes to remain anonymous) has tried logging in to BigPond Broadband with one of the names, and was successful," read the Whirlpool site. "At the time of writing, the validity of the passwords have been independently confirmed by three people. This isn't looking very good for Telstra."

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Ronda Field

Computerworld
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