Telstra apologises after customer records appear online

Spreadsheets containing phone numbers, names and home addresses were able to be accessed using Google search

Telstra has issued a formal apology to affected customers after phone numbers, names and home addresses contained in spreadsheets were found online during a Google search.

SMS Broadcast owner, Lee Gaywood, contacted the Sydney Morning Herald and said that he found the data when searching on Google for telco carrier access codes. According to Gaywood, he needs to know the codes for his SMS service to work.

Telstra took the files offline on 15 May after being notified of the breach by Fairfax, according to the SMH report.

A Telstra spokesman told Computerworld Australia that the company takes customers’ privacy “very seriously” and it was investigating the issue.

“We have since removed access to the data and early indications show is it is generally the same type of information you can find publically in the white pages, and we believe at this point it's more than six plus years old,” he said.

The spokesman added that that the Privacy Commissioner, Timothy Pilgrim, had been fully informed.

Telstra customer service executive director Peter Jamieson said in a blog posting that it was “not acceptable” for the incident to have occurred.

“I apologise and assure everybody that we’ll find out exactly what has happened here and do everything we can to make sure this does not happen again,” he said.

According to Jamieson, the telco was taking steps to identify affected customers and work with them on an individual basis.

“Additionally, we will be contacting all customers whose information was inadvertently made available.”

Telstra has been investigated by the Privacy Commissioner twice for data breaches in the past three years.

The first investigation took place on 28 October 2010 when Telstra told the Office of the Australian Information Commission (OAIC) that a mailing list error had resulted in approximately 220,000 letters with incorrect addresses being mailed out.

Telstra disclosed that this error may have caused the personal information including names and telephone details of some of its customers to be improperly disclosed.

Following his investigation into the matter, the Privacy Commissioner concluded that Telstra had breached National Privacy Principle (NPP) 2 by disclosing the personal information of some of its customers to unauthorised third parties.

On 12 December 2011, Pilgrim was on the case again after Telstra’s customer service website was openly accessible on the Internet.

The telecommunications company said it was made aware of the privacy breach and disabled its online billing, BigPond self-care and My Account functions on its website.

Account details including account numbers, phone numbers and credit card details of just fewer than one million Telstra customers were potentially compromised by the breach.

Follow Hamish Barwick on Twitter: @HamishBarwick

Follow Computerworld Australia on Twitter: @ComputerworldAU, or take part in the Computerworld conversation on LinkedIn: Computerworld Australia

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Show Comments

Latest Videos

Conversations over a cuppa with CMO: Craig Davis

​Leadership resilience, startups scaling up, marketing best practices, customer insights - these are just a few of the topics we manage to explore in the latest episode of Conversations over a Cuppa with CMO featuring Craig Davis.

More Videos

Good day sir / madamWe CLOSED JOINT-STOCK COMPANY AO KAYUM NEFT OIL COMPANY is one of theleading Oil & Gas trading companies in Russi...

BARYBKIN ALEXANDER ALEXANDROVI

3-pronged marketing approach for property disruptor Brickx

Read more

Good day sir / madamWe CLOSED JOINT-STOCK COMPANY AO KAYUM NEFT OIL COMPANY is one of theleading Oil & Gas trading companies in Russi...

BARYBKIN ALEXANDER ALEXANDROVI

Oath to fully acquire Yahoo7 from Seven West Media

Read more

Thank you for sharing your knowledge. Definitely bookmarked for future reading! Check this website https://a2designlab.com/ with lots of ...

Ryota Miyagi

Brene Brown: What it takes to be a brave leader right now

Read more

Well said! It is high time to look into the cultural values and beliefs of the audience before serving with the ads. If it is against the...

Praveen Kumar

The X factor in multicultural media planning and buying - Digital advertising - CMO Australia

Read more

I completely agree with you. High-quality customer service only strengthens loyalty to the company and helps to increase sales and increa...

Natali

Mercer CMO: How B2B brands can achieve customer love

Read more

Blog Posts

Life beyond the cookie: 5 steps to mapping the future of marketing measurement

​There’s no denying there’s been a whirlwind of response to the imminent demise of the third-party cookie from all parts of the industry. But as we’ve collectively come to better understand the implications, it’s clear this change is giving the digital advertising industry the opportunity to re-think digital marketing to support core industry use cases, while balancing consumer privacy.

Natalie Stanbury

Director of research, IAB Australia

Ensuring post-crisis success

The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed brands’ CX shortcomings and a lack of customer understanding. Given ongoing disruption, customer needs, wants and expectations are continually changing, also causing customers to behave in different ways. Just look at hoarding toilet paper, staple and canned food, medicinal and cleaning products.

Riccardo Pasto

senior analyst, Forrester

A few behavioural economics lesson to get your brand on top of the travel list

Understanding the core principles of Behavioural Economics will give players in the travel industry a major competitive advantage when restrictions lift and travellers begin to book again. And there are a few insights in here for the rest of the marketing community, too.

Dan Monheit

Co-founder, Hardhat

Sign in