What does Optus Data Breach mean for international students?
Some of you might have received the email that looks something like this from Optus:
Or else you must have heard about the recent news about Optus data breach and might be wondering what that is and how it affects you as an international student.
And more importantly, what can you do about it?
So in this article, we are going to give insights into what is the whole saga about Optus Data Breach, and what does Optus Data Breach mean for international students?
What is Optus Data Breach?
On 22nd September 2022, Optus revealed that they have been subject to a massive data breach with exposing personal data of nearly 10 million customers.
The attacker who identified himself as “Optusdata” in an online forum asked for $1 million in cryptocurrencies in ransom or else threatening to release the data on the dark web.
But later this attacker seems to have a “change of heart”, and apologies for the trouble it caused to Optus and its customers.
This was not before he claimed to have released the data of 10,000 customers on the dark web already.
What data is believed to be stolen?
Some of the data that has been stolen include:
- Name of the customers
- Their Date of Birth
- Their Phone Numbers
- Their Email address
- Their Home Addresses
Many customers are believed to have their ID details stolen as well including:
- Passport Details
- Driving License Details
- Medicare Details
It is obviously very concerning for everyone as so much personal data has been relieved that it can be used for multiple crimes and other illegal activities like terrorism, identity theft, frauds etc.
Imagine a whole amount of loan taken under your name when you are not even aware of it. And this is just one scenario.
Steps international students can take?
Here are a few things that you can do to help protect yourself from this data breach:
- Immediately change your email passwords and use double authentication, if available.
- Notify any financial institution like banks or lenders about it if data has been breached. Change your bank account details. Ask for a new card. Change PIN.
- Report to the relevant providers if something suspicious happens on your account.
- Ask to put extra measures like putting a special secret code with other important institutions like your insurance company, telco providers etc.
- Notify your university about the data breach as well, so they can assist and know if anyone tries to use your personal information.
- Don’t click on emails that look suspicious or spammy, especially if it seems to be coming from Optus. Make sure to check the email address before clicking or replying.
- If you are getting calls from some organisations to pay bills or fines, don’t reply and disconnect immediately. You can call back the organisation to confirm if they are really after a payment from you
- If your ID has been revealed during the breach, then you can apply to renew the ID document. (We explain that below)
What assistance is available from Optus and the Australian and State governments?
Optus would have emailed you by now if your data has been breached. We suggest you check your inbox (or spam folder) just to confirm it.
The email would have notified you if your data has been breached and if your personal ID like passport details or driving license number has been compromised.
Optus has also announced that it will give access to a 12-month subscription to the Equifax Protect, credit monitoring and identity protection service.
Assistance for your Driving License change
As it is likely that you might have given a Driving License as your ID when signing up for Optus and if that’s compromised, then you should apply to get a new one.
Many states have come to help with issuing new licenses to the affected customers whose Driving License might have been compromised and providing free replacement to all those whose license was compromised.
You can check the details on how you can change it from each of these states here:
- Australian Capital Territory
- New South Wales
- Northern Territory
- South Australia
- Western Australia
You can check more details about it on the Optus website as well.
Assistance for your Passport change
It has also been announced that Optus will pay the fee for the renewal of any Australian passport holders.
But it won’t help international students as they don’t carry Australian passports and most of them might have given their Passport as their ID to Optus.
In that case, you might need to speak to your local consulate office in Australia from your home country and discuss how you can replace the passport.
We also suggest you reach out to Optus to reimburse any costs involved in changing the passport.
Assistance for your Medicare change
Some students who might have access to Medicare and got their Medicare accessed in the breach, can apply to renew the medicare card through mygov account.
If your data has been breached, and you wish to raise a complaint about privacy, then you can make it with Optus.
You can also lodge a complaint with the Telecommunication Ombudsman if you can’t resolve the issue with Optus here.