Lessons from Optus data breach

04th Oct 2022

By now, most of us will have heard something about the huge data breach at Optus. Many people will be thinking, ‘oh I’m not with Optus, this doesn’t affect me’. Unfortunately that isn’t true. 
A major data breach like this is as close to Christmas as it gets for spammers and criminals. While they may not be in the running to pay the millions the criminals are asking for the stolen data, you can be guaranteed that all the spam call centres, both overseas and here in Australia, are scrambling to get on the phones and into your ear.  
We should all use this as a wake up call and keep the following in mind. 
- No legitimate bank, telco, energy provider or Government department is going to send you a random SMS or email, out of the blue, with a link to click to “get money back from Optus”, “secure your account” or any number of other things that are designed to frighten and confuse you into doing something against your better judgement. If you are not actively speaking with a service that you contacted, do not click on these random links. 
- If you receive a call, usually from overseas, which will show on your mobile phone as a + symbol followed by a long phone number, but also from PRIVATE NUMBER / WITHHELD NUMBER, and telling you they are a company like Telstra, a Government department, etc, ask for the callers name, then hang up! Find the listed call centre number and call back so you know who you are speaking to. Many large organisations are putting on extra call centre staff to cope with these call backs. 
- if you suddenly find yourself unable to log into your online banking, or into websites you regularly use, contact your bank or the company involved immediately. 
If you think you have been scammed, DON’T BE ASHAMED! The scammers rely on people being too embarrassed to contact their institutions or the police. Your bank, energy provider, telco, etc all have specialists at their call centres that are trained to help you as quickly as possible.
And most importantly, if you have friends or relatives who are less technically capable, elderly, disabled, etc and who you feel might be vulnerable to being scammed, sit down and talk with them. In extreme cases, it may even be worth setting up a third party contact with their bank or services to allow you or a trusted friend to speak with their banks, etc on their behalf. 
Even the most technically competent of us is liable to be scammed. Live by the old saying “if it sounds too good to be true, it’s is” and don’t be afraid to say no thank you.