Work in Progress to Address Cybersecurity Concerns, Says Singtel After the Optus Cyber Attack

A second Australian business owned by Singapore Telecommunications Ltd. was found to have suffered a cyberattack, compounding the data-security crisis at the company amid the huge data breach at mobile-phone operator Optus.

A hack on technology consulting company Dialog, which SingTel bought earlier this year, may have seen data on fewer than 20 clients and 1,000 current and former staff accessed, according to a Dialog statement issued by SingTel on Monday. Dialog discovered on Oct. 7 that a “very small sample” of its data, including personal employee information, had been published on the so-called Dark Web. The attack itself took place almost a month earlier, on Sept. 10, Dialog said.

Mr Lee said he had assured Mr Albanese that “Singapore takes the data breach very seriously”.

“We expect all Singapore companies to comply fully with domestic laws, wherever they operate, and to co-operate with the domestic regulators to protect consumer’s interests, just as we would expect our companies to do in Singapore,” he said.

“In the case of Optus, this is an Australian company, it is incorporated and headquartered in Australia, its operations are run out of Australia, not from Singapore, and therefore Australia’s rules and regulations apply in addressing this incident.

“Our cybersecurity and information agencies have also reached out to their Australian counterparts and we stand ready to [offer] support to the Australian government should our assistance be needed.”

Mr Albanese said he appreciated Singapore’s cooperation over the data breach, which had exposed issues with cybersecurity and privacy and been a “wake-up call” for companies over data retention practices.

Australia has indicated it is unwilling to even start talks with Beijing while the trade sanctions against what was $20 billion of Australian exports remain in place. Australia and Japan are also wary about China being able to veto the US rejoining the agreement.

“[China] will, of course, have to meet the requirements fully of the conditions and the obligations,” Mr Lee said.

“But I think that is something which is possible and can be negotiated.”

Mr Lee said there had to be consensus among the existing CPTPP members over China’s application, and Singapore as chair of the committee had been canvassing views.

“On applicants who want to join, the process should begin; China has applied and so have some other applicants,” he said.

“I don’t think there is a consensus yet but we will continue that process. And as for Australia’s position, I think Australia knows what it is doing and we understand each other’s point of view.”

Asked about American moves to nobble China’s access to semiconductor chips on national security grounds, Mr Lee said the prospect of economic decoupling was worrying and could lead to a less stable world.

“I think the Biden administration’s most recent move is a very serious one,” he said.

“But we do worry that valid national security considerations may trigger further consequences and may result in less economic cooperation, less interdependency, less trust and, possibly, ultimately a less stable world.”


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