The ACT Government has yet to decide whether Canberrans impacted by the major Optus hack which occurred last Friday (23 September) will be able to change their drivers licence number.
Almost 10 million current and former customers had their personal data, including licence numbers, addresses, names, phone numbers, email addresses and more stolen in a massive breach.
It’s unclear how many Canberrans have been impacted by the issue at this stage, but Access Canberra has been inundated with requests to change licence numbers.
One man, who wished to remain unnamed, said he received an email from Optus advising he had been impacted by the event and confirming his licence details had been accessed.
“I’m not overly concerned as the expiry date of the licence has changed, and to my knowledge, a scan of the licence with my photo was not stored,” he said.
Others did not share this level of optimism.
Licence numbers are designed to remain with a driver throughout their life, but the Opposition has called on the government to move quickly to encourage victims of the Optus hack to replace their licence number.
Opposition spokesperson for Regulatory Services Ed Cocks said this is a time for speed and responsiveness.
“Without quick action from the government, Canberrans are vulnerable to identity theft,” Mr Cocks said.
“Inaction will only make already distressed victims even more [so].”
Yesterday, Region questioned Access Canberra about what was happening. The only response at that time was that it was working through the “evolving situation” with other states and territories and Optus.
A day later, and five days after Optus first confirmed the breach, the ACT Government still doesn’t have an answer as to whether it will move to allow customers to replace their licences.
AAP is reporting a Labor caucus meeting today was told the option to allow Australians to change their licence numbers was being considered with the privacy commissioner.
In contrast, the NSW Government has set up a helpline for those impacted by the breach and is actively advising customers to apply for a replacement licence.
“Behind the scenes, the NSW Department of Customer Service, Transport for NSW, Cyber Security NSW, ID Support and NSW Registry of Births Death and Marriages are working with Optus to make the process of re-issuing of NSW identity documents as seamless as possible,” Minister for Customer Service and Digital Government Victor Dominello said in a statement.
This morning, Attorney-General Shane Rattenbury, who does not have ministerial responsibility for regulation, was questioned about the breach on ABC Radio.
Mr Rattenbury said he and his colleagues would be having discussions about the implications of the breach for the Territory, including the need for changing licence numbers.
Ministers’ phone accounts are held with Optus, Mr Rattenbury confirmed, but he did not have details about what information had been held.
He said there would likely be future cybersecurity lessons for the local government from the event, but it predominantly sat with the federal authorities and Optus for the time being.
“As the ACT Government, one of the key planks of our security is … cyber [because] we have a lot of people’s information for the various interactions they have with the government,” he said.
This morning, a person claiming to be the hacker said on an online forum they would begin releasing data every day – and had done so already – unless Optus paid a ransom.
They later appeared to walk back that threat and apologised, saying the records published this morning had been deleted.
It’s unclear whether that was legitimate.
The breach is under investigation by the Australian Federal Police in conjunction with overseas law enforcement as part of Operation Hurricane.
If you are concerned that your information may have been included in the recent Optus data breach, check the Optus website for information and contact Optus via the My Optus App or call 133 937.
Support is also available via IDCARE, Australia’s national identity and cyber support service. Contact IDCARE for free help on 1800 595 160 or visit idcare.org. They also have a fact sheet available here.
The ACT Government, Access Canberra and the office of Minister for Better Regulation Tara Cheyne have been contacted for comment.