Telstra is the latest telco to land in hot water for compromising customer privacy, after a database error caused 132,000 customers’ names, addresses and phone numbers to be made public.
The telco giant has confirmed that the personal details of previously unlisted customers had been made available on the White Pages website or Directory Assistance Services. Of the impacted customers, 16,000 had their information published on the White Pages database, while the rest were available by request through Directory Assistance.
Telstra privacy breach: What happened
It’s important to note that, unlike the Optus cyberattack in August, this privacy breach wasn’t due to a hack or malicious activity. According to Telstra, the breach occurred due to a “misalignment of databases” that led to previously-private customer details being incorrectly flagged as listed.
Telstra’s Chief Financial Officer Michael Acklund said that the error was discovered during the telco’s regular auditing processes over the past few weeks.
“As soon as we became aware, we started work to remove the identified impacted customers from the Directory Assistance service and the online version of the White Pages,” Mr Acklund said. “We’re in the process of contacting every affected customer to let them know, and to offer free support through IDCARE.”
Mr Acklund said Telstra was conducting an internal investigation into the breach and would continue to review its auditing process to prevent further incidents.
“Protecting our customers’ privacy is absolutely paramount, and for the customers impacted we understand this is an unacceptable breach of your trust,” Mr Acklund said. “We’re sorry it occurred, and we know we have let you down.”
You might’ve heard that some of our customers’ details incorrectly appeared in the White Pages and Directory Assistance. We’re so sorry to those we’ve let down.
This was the result of a system error on our end and not a cyber security issue.
— Telstra (@Telstra) December 11, 2022
The following table shows a selection of sponsored SIM Only plans on Canstar Blue’s database with links to referral partners.
SIM Only Postpaid
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SIM Only Postpaid
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How to keep your info safe
While the recent Optus hack saw the leak of identifying information and documents, including birthdates, passport and driver’s licence numbers, Telstra’s data breach was limited to names, phone numbers and addresses.
However, as all impacted customers had requested that their information remain unlisted, the data breach raises privacy and safety concerns for those affected.
Telstra is offering customers support through IDCARE, which is an identity protection and cyber security service available to individuals and organisations in Australia and New Zealand. IDCARE assists with preventing and addressing scams, fraudulent activity and cybercrimes such as stalking and harassment.
Affected Telstra customers may be eligible for assistance that includes a premium support service, as well as a tailored response plan and individual case manager. Telstra said it was reaching out to all impacted customers directly via email or letter, but concerned subscribers can contact Telstra on 13 22 00 or IDCARE at 1800 595 160 during business hours.
There are also some quick self-help steps you can take to help keep your identity and personal details safe. In addition to contacting IDCARE, you may want to look at the following if your number or address has been compromised:
- Be on the lookout for suspicious SMS messages or phone calls. This includes unsolicited texts from unfamiliar numbers, and any that ask for personal information or request that you open an attachment or click a link.
- Protect your personal info by placing a lock on your mailbox and shredding bills or important documents before disposing of them.
- Switch to electronic billing or statements for sensitive information, such as financial records or utilities accounts.
- Be aware of your privacy settings on social media – consider making your profile private if you haven’t already, and don’t accept friend or follow requests from strangers or suspicious accounts.
If you’re looking to move on from Telstra, the following tables include postpaid and prepaid SIM plans from smaller providers using the Telstra mobile network.
Postpaid plans on the Telstra network
The table below shows a selection of postpaid plans from Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of standard advertised monthly cost, lowest cost first, then by data allowance. Use our phone plan comparison tool to see a wider range of plans from other providers. These are products which may contain links to referral partners.
Prepaid plans on the Telstra network
The table below shows a selection of prepaid plans from Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of standard advertised monthly cost, lowest cost first, then by data allowance. Use our comparison tool to see a wider range of plans from other providers. These are products which may contain links to referral partners.