26 September 2023

Federal Police swing into Optus action

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The Australian Federal Police (AFP) has stepped in to play a major role in the national Optus information breach, working closely with overseas law enforcement agencies to help identify the offenders behind the attack.

Launching ‘Operation Hurricane’, the AFP announced it was aware of reports of the sale of stolen data and was conducting investigations.

According to the AFP, the newly established joint partnership between law enforcement, the private sector and industry, known as JPC3, which was set up to combat the growing threat of cybercrime, is providing further capability in the investigation.

Assistant Police Commissioner, Cyber Command, Justine Gough said that while the investigation was extremely complex and very lengthy, it was important to note the AFP specialised in investigations of this type.

“This is an ongoing investigation but it is important the community knows the AFP and our partners are doing everything within scope to identify the offenders responsible, and to also ensure we can protect individuals who are now potentially vulnerable to identity theft,” Assistant Commissioner Gough said.

“We know this may be a stressful time for many members of the community so I want to be clear and honest with the public,” she said.

“We are aware of reports of stolen data being sold on the dark web and that is why the AFP is monitoring the dark web using a range of specialist capabilities.”

She said criminals who use pseudonyms and anonymising technology, can’t see the police: “but I can tell you that we can see them”.

She said the AFP’s presence and focus extended outside Australian borders with specialised cyber investigators permanently based in the United Kingdom, United States, Europe and Africa.

“We will use all our technical capabilities and tools to protect the public from cybercrime but we also need the public to be extra vigilant,” Assistant Commissioner Gough said.

“Cybercrime is the break-and-enter of the 21st Century and this breach is not the first and is unlikely to be the last,” she said.

“With that in mind, we ask all Australians to think about their online security and take practical measures to better protect themselves from scams and phishing attempts.”

She called on members of the public, especially current and former Optus customers, to be extra vigilant monitoring unsolicited text messages, emails and phone calls.

“This message is extended to all Australians,” Assistant Commissioner Gough said.

“The AFP will be working hard to explain to the community and businesses how to harden their online security because ultimately it is our job to help protect Australians and our way of life.”

She said the AFP was also working closely with Optus, the Australian Signals Directorate and overseas law enforcement.

Readers interested in finding out more about cyber safety can access details at this PS News link and anyone believing they may have fallen victim to cybercrime should contact ReportCyber at this PS News link.

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