Australia looks to amend privacy rules following Optus data breach

The Australian flag seen in the reflection of a CCTV camera
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Australian privacy rules will be changed to enable faster cyber security alerts for banks, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese announced on Monday.

"We want to make sure ... that we change some of the privacy provisions there so that if people are caught up like this, the banks can be let know so that they can protect their customers as well," Albanese told radio station 4BC.


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The news breaks a week after the country's second-largest telecom firm and a subsidiary of Singapore-owned Singtel, Optus was faced with a data security incident.

“Home addresses, drivers' licences and passport numbers of up to 10 million customers, or about 40% of the population, were compromised in one of Australia's biggest data breaches,” Optus confirmed.

Less is known about the attack mechanism, however, Optus revealed the attacker's IP address appeared to traverse several European countries.

"One significant question is whether the cyber security requirements that we place on large telecommunications providers in this country are fit for purpose," stated cyber security minister Clare O'Neil.

"In other jurisdictions, a data breach of this size would result in fines amounting to hundreds of millions of dollars."

As matters stand, Optus has taken measures to address the cyber attack.

“Optus is offering the most affected current and former customers whose information was compromised because of a cyberattack, the option to take up a 12-month subscription to Equifax Protect at no cost,” reads the company’s cyber security alert.