Optus to up security in wake of review

Optus to up security in wake of review

Summary: Optus chief executive Paul O'Sullivan said that a review into its security carried out in the wake of Vodafone's data breach last month had spawned new ideas for the improvement of its defences.

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TOPICS: Telcos, Security, Optus
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Optus chief executive Paul O'Sullivan said that a review into its security carried out in the wake of Vodafone's data breach last month had spawned new ideas for the improvement of its defences.

Spying

(Keyloggers image by Robbert van der Steeg, CC BY-SA 2.0)

Vodafone commenced an internal security review after reports that Vodafone staff had sold off access credentials to criminals who used it to obtain information, which included voice and SMS logs, to blackmail customers.

As a result of its findings up to this point, Vodafone has terminated the employment of several staff members and referred their actions on to the New South Wales Police Service.

O'Sullivan, speaking at Optus' third-quarter results today, said that those ideas, although he couldn't air them or risk exposing the measures to criminal scrutiny, would help the telco achieve an "even higher level of security".

He also reaffirmed that Optus retail staff could not sell-off access to sensitive customer details because its operations were "fundamentally different" to the practices Vodafone had been using.

The chief executive said that Optus didn't provide dealers with access to call or financial details in the same way that Vodafone did, implying that even if Optus dealers or their retail staff sold access passwords to unsavoury parties, they could not access such information.

Vodafone said that after the incident its credit card information was encrypted, so was not able to be viewed by rogue eyes without further action, but call log details were available.

Analysts have criticised providing dealers with too much access to information, saying that telcos need to operate access to customer data on a need to know basis.

O'Sullivan said that he felt Optus had capitalised on Vodafone's recent privacy and 3G woes, touting the 150,000 new post-paid Optus customers gained over the last quarter.

Indeed, mobile revenue growth of 7 per cent led to a 4 per cent rise in overall revenues this quarter, while earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation grew 5 per cent year on year to $555 million.

The number of 3G subscribers for the telco grew to 4.8 million, a 7 per cent increase from the previous quarter; of those 1.2 million were wireless broadband customers.

However, the telco's business and wholesale divisions saw a 2 per cent decline in revenues, due to lower ICT hardware sales. O'Sullivan drew attention to the fact that the company had won big deals in recent times, such as the ATO and ANZ, adding that the project nature of the divisions would lead to "lumpy" performance.

O'Sullivan praised the resiliency of the network in the floods, saying that Optus was able to get services restored quicker to trouble areas because of its satellite coverage, but also that workers had been tireless in their restoration work.

Topics: Telcos, Security, Optus

Suzanne Tindal

About Suzanne Tindal

Suzanne Tindal cut her teeth at ZDNet.com.au as the site's telecommunications reporter, a role that saw her break some of the biggest stories associated with the National Broadband Network process. She then turned her attention to all matters in government and corporate ICT circles. Now she's taking on the whole gamut as news editor for the site.

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