This morning, a nationwide service disruption from telecommunications giant Optus severely affected mobile, fixed internet, and landline phone services for millions of Australians.
The outage left users in a state of uncertainty as they commuted to work, unaware that the issue was being widely shared with their immediate neighbours on the train, bus, or tram.
While Optus has made some progress in restoring certain services, the company has adamantly denied any suggestion of a cyberattack, similar to the incident experienced in September 2022.
Speaking on Sydney radio station 2GB this morning, Optus CEO Kelly Bayer Rosmarin said, “There is no indication that it is anything to do with spyware at this stage.”
“Unfortunately, we don’t have more information to share at this stage. We have been experiencing issues since 4 am.”
Despite efforts to rectify the situation, Optus stated that it ‘may take a few hours’ to fully restore the service to customers across the country.
Ms Rosmarin refuted expert claims regarding a potential software update causing the disruption, asserting that the system was, in fact, “very stable.”
In the wake of Optus’s service issues, rival telecommunications giant Telstra shares have jumped more than two per cent on the day.
Optus ‘will not rest’ until fixed
While a definitive cause has not been announced at this stage, the Optus CEO has assured the public that staff are working around the clock to restore services.
The outage has rendered some businesses unable to trade, including cafes and shops, while others have flooded triple-zero call lines for help.
Optus has urged that anyone seeking triple-zero services must call from a mobile line, as calls from an Optus landline will not be heard.
“The team has tried a number of parts of restoration and so far we have not had the results that we have hoped for,” Ms Rosmarin said.
“…we’re pursuing every avenue to get everybody back online as soon as possible.
“…when we have an identified root cause and a time for restoration, we’ll be updating everybody as soon as we can.”
2022 cyber attack
Today’s service disruption at Optus may trigger a sense of déjà vu for some customers, who still bear the scars of the company’s 2022 cyberattack.
That incident compromised sensitive personal information, including driver’s license numbers, passports, and Medicare details.
In the aftermath of the 2022 breach, legal representatives Slater and Gordon initiated a class action lawsuit on behalf of 9.8 million former and current Optus customers.
More than 10,000 individuals had their personal information exposed on the dark web following the incident.
In response to the situation, Communications Minister Michelle Rowland addressed the issue on ABC Radio Sydney, discussing potential mechanisms for transferring customers to alternative carriers during critical service interruptions.
She acknowledged the frustrations of consumers and their yearning for a clear timeframe for resolution.
“There certainly are issues here and they go beyond competition,” she said.
“Optus has said that they are doing everything they can at this stage to identify the faults and to rectify it, but I do appreciate that for your listeners and for consumers right around Australia, this is very frustrating at the moment and there is a strong desire to have some timeframes about when this might be rectified.”
Ms Rowland pointed out that the federal government had already been working on protocols for transferring customers to other carriers during emergency situations, such as bushfires and floods.