The Privacy Commissioner’s office is in touch with Telstra after yesterday’s fire in northern Sydney saw text messages sent to the wrong numbers.
SMS messages were delivered to strangers after the Chatswood exchange fire disrupted the Telstra network nationally, forcing the telco to shut down the service.
The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner, which includes the privacy commissioner, confirmed Telstra had notified them of the potential privacy problem.
“We will remain in contact with Telstra as they continue to respond to the situation,” said an OAIC spokesperson. He urged Telstra customers with concerns about the whereabouts of their personal information to contact the OAIC.
Messaging services were restored progressively last night, and the telco’s CEO Andy Penn labelled the incident “extraordinarily unusual” and that the system was switched off to safeguard customer privacy.
“I’ve never known that to happen before,” he said. “Some SMS messages were corrupted, which resulted in potentially some of those going to the incorrect address.”
“It’s very disappointing for our customers, I just want to just acknowledge the impact that would have had on a number of our customers and apologise for that.”
While social media was full of examples of comical messages sent to complete strangers, some users raised concerns about two-factor authentication texts going to the wrong people.
Two-factor authentication is used by companies like banks and Google to send out a code via SMS as an extra layer of online protection on top of passwords.
Still getting calls at work from people still not getting messages via @Telstra, plus they're getting bank security SMS for other people…
— Mike Daniel (@mickinnsw) February 2, 2017
Thought I wasn't affected by the #Telstra outage… then I tried two-factor authentication. No text messages here, folks.
— Jen Dudley-Nicholson (@jendudley) February 2, 2017
— Michael Wheeler (@theskorm) February 2, 2017
Telstra is now capable of delivering 1Gpbs download and 150Mbps upload speeds over its 4G LTE network. BUT NO SMS.
— ashul shah (@ashulz) February 2, 2017
— Sophie Benjamin (@sophbenj) February 2, 2017