Telstra denies virus attack

The Australian newspaper reported today that some 68,000 customers "unlucky" to have e-mail addresses starting with the letters I, L and M have been unable to access e-mail since last week. The paper described this as bizarre and suggested that a virus may be at play.

Telstra disputed this in a statement issued this afternoon. "Contrary to claims made that people have been impacted for a week, Telstra's e-mail system was subject to two outages that lasted for a period of four hours each, one on Friday 23 February and on Monday 26 February," the statement read. "A software fault and not a virus caused the outages."

According to Telstra, the outages meant that, for some customers, it took a maximum of four hours to receive their e-mail. "At most, about 10 per cent of customers were impacted, but not all those customers would have been using e-mail at the time of the outages."

The telco said the fault occurred in an e-mail storage system and, as customers are assigned to an e-mail store in alphabetical order, people whose e-mail address starting with I, L, or M were impacted.

Since Monday evening, the e-mail system has been working normally, the company said.

Meanwhile the company has faced another problem. Telstra is also dealing with a problem with the trunk network circuit from Sydney to Sacramento in the US. This may be causing degraded performance to Internet traffic between these regions, Telstra said. Telstra technical staff are currently working on resolving the problem.