Singapore Telecommunications-owned Optus has stated that there is no evidence suggesting a cyberattack as the cause of a recent network outage, which affected millions of customers, including emergency services, hospitals, and transport systems.
The outage occurred on Wednesday at Optus, Australia's second-largest mobile operator. In 2022, the company experienced a cyberattack resulting in customer data theft. However, at present, the exact cause of the recent outage remains unknown, despite customer complaints spanning over seven hours. Optus Chief Executive Kelly Bayer Rosmarin has emphasized that there is no indication of an attack and that software issues are highly unlikely.
Rosmarin assured customers that the company's systems are generally very stable and that such occurrences are rare. Further updates regarding the root cause will be promptly shared with customers.
Reports of disruptions in Optus services began to surface shortly before dawn on Australia's east coast. Notably, Optus-operated landlines were unable to connect to Australia’s equivalent of 911, known as triple zero. However, Rosmarin clarified that emergency calls made via Optus mobiles would still go through.
The outage also impacted various businesses and services. Ramsay Health Care, Australia's largest private-hospital operator, experienced connectivity issues. To minimize inconvenience for patients, Ramsay utilized their Facebook accounts to direct inquiries to their hospital websites. Similarly, train services in Melbourne, the country's second-most populous city, encountered significant delays. The transport department of Victoria state reported that their call center went offline due to the outage.
Overall, Optus assures its customers that they are actively investigating the cause of the outage and will provide timely updates as more information becomes available.
Australian Government Urges Optus to Improve Communication with Customers
The Australian government's communications minister, Michelle Rowland, has emphasized the need for Optus to enhance its communication with customers amidst a recent outage. Many customers are likely experiencing anxiety or financial loss as a result of the incident. According to Rowland, the fault lies deep within the core operations of Optus.
Although it is still too early to determine potential financial compensations, Rowland addressed the matter during a media conference. It is worth noting that Optus already faces a class action lawsuit for its alleged failure to protect customers' personal information in a September 2022 cyber attack, during which details of over 10,000 customers were stolen.
Rowland also emphasized the critical nature of communications infrastructure, stating that it has been a longstanding concern in Australia. In 2018, Australia banned the use of 5G technology provided by China's Huawei due to security concerns.
"It is evident how essential telecommunications are to our everyday lives," Rowland declared during her statement on Wednesday.
Rowland confirmed that the government-owned National Broadband Network, responsible for selling wholesale access to retailers such as Optus, is operating without any issues.