Optus reveals cause of 12-hour outage that left millions of Australians with no phone or internet access

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Katina Curtis
The Nightly
2 Min Read
Optus has revealed the source of its 12-hour system outage last week. (Dean Lewins/AAP PHOTOS)
Optus has revealed the source of its 12-hour system outage last week. (Dean Lewins/AAP PHOTOS) Credit: AAP

Optus has revealed the source of its 12-hour system outage last week that left 10 million Australians without access to phones or internet.

The telecommunications company issued a statement on Monday afternoon saying the problem was related to a routine software upgrade on its network’s routers, which made changes that “exceeded preset safety levels on key routers which could not handle these”.

Subsequently, those routers disconnected themselves from Optus’ core network to protect themselves.

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The Optus CEO has issued an emotional apology after the personal details of nearly 10 million customers were potentially stolen by overseas hackers. The massive cyber breach allowed hackers to access the personal details of the telco's customers including passport and driver's licence numbers, email and home addresses, dates of birth and telephone numbers. The company's boss Kelly Bayer Rosmarin confirmed payment details and account passwords had not been compromised but admitted she felt 'terrible' the breach had happened under her watch. 'I think it's a mix of a lot of different emotions,' she said looking downcast. 'Obviously I am angry that there are people out there that want to do this to our customers, I'm disappointed we couldn't have prevented it.
The Optus CEO has issued an emotional apology after the personal details of nearly 10 million customers were potentially stolen by overseas hackers. The massive cyber breach allowed hackers to access the personal details of the telco's customers including passport and driver's licence numbers, email and home addresses, dates of birth and telephone numbers. The company's boss Kelly Bayer Rosmarin confirmed payment details and account passwords had not been compromised but admitted she felt 'terrible' the breach had happened under her watch. 'I think it's a mix of a lot of different emotions,' she said looking downcast. 'Obviously I am angry that there are people out there that want to do this to our customers, I'm disappointed we couldn't have prevented it. Credit: Twitter/Twitter

“The restoration required a large-scale effort of the team and in some cases required Optus to reconnect or reboot routers physically, requiring the dispatch of people across a number of sites in Australia. This is why restoration was progressive over the afternoon,” a spokesperson for the company said in a statement.

“We have made changes to the network to address this issue so that it cannot occur again.”

The company used the statement to apologise to its customers for letting them down and for the inconvenience the outage casued.

It said its investigations into the cause and fixing the problem “took longer than we would have liked” because of the widespread nature of the outage.

“We are committed to learning from what has occurred and continuing to work with our international vendors and partners to increase the resilience of our network. We will also support and will fully cooperate with the reviews being undertaken by the Government and the Senate,” the spokesperson said.

“We continue to invest heavily to improve the resiliency of our network and services.”

The Government has launched an inquiry into the November 8 outage, and Optus’ response to customers. The communications regulator will also examine the telco’s compliance with rules requiring emergency calls to be accessible.

Communications Minister Michelle Rowland
Communications Minister Michelle Rowland says the universal service obligation will be reformed. (Lukas Coch/AAP PHOTOS) Credit: AAP

Communications Minister Michelle Rowland told Parliament on Monday the widespread effects – bringing down EFTPOS systems, hospitals, public transport, emergency lines, internet-assisted technology helping people with disability, and school networks – underscored how essential connectivity was for all Australians.

“Consumers and business customers were understandably frustrated,” she said, urging everyone affected to look at the information about their rights from the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman and Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.

Separately, a Senate committee has also launched an inquiry and will hear from Optus chief executive Kelly Bayer Rosmarin during a two-hour session on Friday.

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