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Australian Federal Police arrest first scammer exploiting leaked Optus data

Stock Markets Oct 07, 2022 15:30
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© Reuters. Australian Federal Police arrest first scammer exploiting leaked Optus data

Australian Federal Police has arrested its first scammer who tried to exploit data leaked from the Optus breach to run a failed SMS extortion scam.

The scammer, a 19-year-old Sydney resident, has been accused of threatening to divulge Optus' customers’ personal information for other nefarious activities unless they paid a ransom of $2000.

He texted 93 people from the 10,200 records leaked on a cybercrime forum, however, there are no reports of anyone falling victim to the scam.

The man has been charged with using a telecommunication network with the intent of blackmail as well as dealing with identification information.

Not responsible for Optus breach

AFP assistant commissioner cyber command Justine Gough said the man was not suspected of being the individual responsible for the Optus breach but allegedly tried to financially benefit from the stolen data that was dumped on an online forum.

She added: “Last week, the AFP and our state and territory partners launched Operation Guardian to protect the most vulnerable customers affected by the Optus breach and we were clear that there would be no tolerance for the criminal use of this stolen data.

“We understand how worried some members of the community are, and I want to give the community reassurance that the AFP and our partners are working around the clock to help protect your personal information."

New regulations en route

The news of the arrest comes after Treasurer Jim Chalmers announced new regulations which will be implemented following the data leak to aim to detect and mitigate the risks of scams.

Chalmers said: “The proposed amendments come after extensive consultation with the financial regulators and other financial institutions on how we can best protect consumers following that Optus data breach,”

“They need to satisfy robust security requirements and protocols for data transfer and storage, and they need to ensure that the information that they get is destroyed when it’s no longer required.

“It’s important that we note here that for data security reasons, we won’t be disclosing the details of any financial institutions that receive the data from Optus, and this is based on strong advice from the regulators,”

What happened?

Two weeks ago, Optus revealed that the breach in its systems exposed an unspecified number of customer names, dates of birth, phone numbers and email addresses.

Alarmingly for a subset of customers, addresses and identity document numbers, such as driver’s licences or passport numbers, were also taken in the breach.

However, payment details and account passwords were not compromised in the attack.

Darkweb screenshots surfaced quickly after the attack, with an underground BreachForums user going by the moniker ‘optusdata’ offering two tranches of data.

The hacker claimed to have records for about 11.2 million Optus customers, including their names, dates of birth, phone numbers, email addresses and, for a subset of customers, addresses and ID document numbers such as driver’s licence or passport numbers.

Last Tuesday, optusdata released 10,000 records to twist Optus’s hand in the negotiations.

Subsequently, in a quick turn of events, the hacker withdrew the ransom demand, apologises to Optus and the Australian people and claimed that the data had been destroyed.

Read more on Proactive Investors AU

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Australian Federal Police arrest first scammer exploiting leaked Optus data
 

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