What to do now and how to protect yourself explained

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That 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 Australians.

Optus’ own business operations have not been affected, meaning your mobile, home or broadband has not been out of service. But the impact on customers can last for years and be devastating.

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

Millions of Optus customers could be vulnerable to cybercriminals after a sophisticated hack and are being warned about potential SMS scams. (Included)

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 what data was obtained.

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

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

At worst, there are millions of people whose names, addresses, dates of birth, phone numbers, email addresses are in the hands of cybercriminals.

Today, Optus CEO Kelly Bayer Rosmarin said numbers from identity documents such as passports and driving licenses could also be compromised, but photos were not.

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

What should Optus customers do 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 of your accounts.

Especially your bank account logins and email logins.

When you do this, make sure you’ve also enabled “Two Factor Authentication” on these accounts and accounts like your social media.

This means it’s harder for any hacker or fraudster to get into your accounts using the information they may have collected here.

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

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

So lock your accounts today.

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

It is important that you increase your own awareness and vigilance about SMS and email messages, and ask 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 text and email scams can happen.

In short, be on the lookout for emails that appear to have a large amount of personal information about you.

Image of texting scam impersonating someone else's dad.

SMS scams try to trick the recipient with the contact’s name

What could fraudsters do with my information?

Fraudsters who get their hands on this database of customer information can use it to send more personalized messages via SMS or email.

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

In case you receive an email or a message like this, never click on the link in it.

Instead, if you think it’s legitimate, take yourself to that company’s website without clicking any 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 identity theft.

By using your name, date of birth, address or ID numbers, fraudsters 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 organization setup to help 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 texts.

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

Look out for messages from “Optus” reporting the attack, apologizing to customers and giving you advice, including clicking a link or taking action on a message.

It will be a scam.

If you think it’s genuine, visit Optus’ own website, log into My Account and any information Optus has to share with you should be there.

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