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A week since the Optus security breach which exposed the data of millions of Australians the minister for cyber security has revealed they now have more information about how it was undertaken.
Cyber Security Minister Clare O'Neil told A Current Affair host Dimity Clancey that a police investigation is now "on foot" through what is being dubbed Operation Hurricane.
"Australian police (are) working with the FBI and state police forces around the country to not only find the person who is responsible for this vast breach of Australians' data, but to try to stop this data being used to commit financial crimes against Australians," O'Neil said.
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The minister said the Australian government is also trying to support Optus so the issue doesn't continue, and said wanted to assure customers that "we have not seen additional data for sale" at this stage.
O'Neil explained that she understands why people are now feeling angry and nervous about what happened because it's a security breach that shouldn't have occurred in the first place.
"We should not have a situation where the data … of 10 million Australians has effectively been beached and gone into the public realm," she said.
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While Optus has described the incident as a sophisticated cyber attack, the minister said from her perspective it was actually a very basic attack and that "global cyber security experts do share my view about the nature of the attack".
O'Neil said the fact that a breach of this scale occurred inside a major company such as Optus was concerning.
"I think (from) a telecommunications provider in this country we should expect to have better cybersecurity protections in place," she said.
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"It's a big wake-up call for corporate Australia, for everyone that holds data of Australians, and there's a big reform project here.
But the minister admitted the government needs to do more too.
"The truth is, the Australian government should have better powers to enforce cyber security provisions on private companies and that's something that I'll be looking to do in the wake of the attack," O'Neil said.
She added that the data breach is "a wake-up call" for the Australian government and that our privacy laws "are not up to scratch".
"We are probably five years behind where we need to be with cyber security in this country and (the) government is not immune from that," the minister said.
"We're a decade behind on privacy measures."
O'Neil said one of her priorities in her role will now be trying to lift the standard, particularly in those industries that affect millions of Australians.
When it came to questions about why people's personal information wasn't encrypted as it is in the banking sector, the minister said that's one of many difficult questions Optus will now have to answer.
O'Neil said in other countries Optus would be subject to "hundreds of millions of dollars worth of fines" because of their actions leading to the breach.
But in Australia, the maximum fine that can be attached to this kind of breach within the privacy act is only $2.2 million.
"Which, for a massive company like Optus is really a drop in the ocean," the minister said.
She warned other companies that this incident sends a very clear message to companies to lift their standards, saying "this is not the last cyber attack that we're going to see, even in 2022".
"This is a part of the reality of our lives and living in a digital age, as we do, we're going to have many more things connected to the internet every year," she said.
"The consequences for Australians are significant and it didn't have to be this way."
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