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The Optus cyber attack this week has the potential to be the biggest and frankly most dangerous in the country when it comes to the impact on everyday Aussies.

Optus’ own business operations have not been affected, meaning your mobile, home or broadband haven’t had outages. But the impact on customers could last years and be devastating. 

If you’re one of the potentially 9.8 million customers whose data may now be in the hands of hackers, scammers or those seeking to commit identity fraud, you have every right to be worried.

Hacker scammer dark hooded laptop computer
Millions of Optus customers could be vulnerable to cyber criminals after a sophisticated hack. (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

I’m an Optus customer – is my data part of this breach?

At this stage, Optus is still investigating the cause and source of the attack, along with just what data was obtained.

Over the next few days, Optus hopes to contact all customers to let them know if they were included or not.

And if you were included, how much of your information may have been obtained.

In the worst case scenario, there are millions of people whose names, addresses, birth dates, phone numbers, email addresses are in the hands of cyber criminals.

Today Optus CEO Kelly Bayer Rosmarin said numbers from identity documents like passports and drivers licences may also be compromised, however pictures were not.

Optus said it will let customers know which category they fall into.

What should Optus customers be doing today?

While there is little you can do until we know for sure what has been stolen, this is an important time to look at securing all your accounts.

In particular, your bank account logins and email logins.

When you do this, ensure that you have also enabled “Two Factor Authentication” on those accounts, and accounts like your social media.

This means it is harder for any hacker or scammer to get into your accounts using the information they may have gathered here.

Your Optus password and payment information details, like credit card numbers, are not part of the attack. However, often our passwords can be guessed from our personal information, or even found from previous other data breaches.

Making your online accounts 'hacker-proof' - online security
Enable ‘Two Factor Authentication’ to better bolster your online security. (Today)

So, lock down your accounts today.

Also, you should keep a close eye on your online accounts and check for any unusual activity, both in terms of social media but also banking and financial accounts.

Importantly, increase your own awareness and vigilance around SMS and email messages and tell your family to do the same.

Our elderly are most vulnerable here so please ask your friends and family about their own situation and talk to them about how SMS and email scams can happen.

In simple terms, be on the lookout for emails that seem to have a large amount of personal information about you in them.

Image of text message scam impersonating someone's dad.

Text message scam attempts to fool recipient with contact name

What could scammers do with my information?

Scammers who get hold of this database of customer information could use it to send more personalised messages via SMS or email.

Be wary of messages that know not only your name, but your birthdate, your address or other personal information.

In the case that you an email or message like this, never click the link within it.

Instead, if you think it’s legitimate, take yourself to the website of that company without clicking links, or call them using numbers listed on their official websites.

Identity fraud – what we know, and what you can do

In addition to these scam emails and texts, the silent threat is the theft of your identity.

Using your name, date of birth, address or ID numbers, scammers can call banks or other institutions and pretend to be you.

Even worse, they could apply for new credit or loans in your name.

If this happens to you, ID Care is an organisation setup to assist with this, and they can provide expert advice.

Optus scam messages: The next threat

Mark my words, the next week will see an influx of fake Optus emails and text messages.

Optus said this is why they haven’t reached out to customers, but I think the horse has bolted on that one.

Be on the lookout for messages from “Optus” which report the attack, apologise to customers, and give you advice including clicking a link or actioning a message.

That’s going to be a scam.

If you think it’s real, visit Optus’ own website, login to My Account and any information Optus needs to share with you, should be there.

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