Australia's second largest Telco provider Optus down for millions

Optus, one of Australia's top telecommunications service providers, is down for millions of customers, interrupting Melbourne's train service and phone lines at some hospitals.

“We're aware of an issue impacting Optus mobile and nbn [national broadband network] services and are working to restore services as quickly as possible,” the company posted on X, coinciding with the nation’s Wednesday morning rush hour.

“We understand connectivity is important and apologize for any inconvenience caused,” the post said.

A banner was also posted at the top of the Optus website with the same message as dozens of businesses and critical infrastructure experiencing outages look for answers.

The outage has apparently left over 40% of Australia's population or about 10 million people “unable to make calls or access internet since early morning,” internet traffic monitoring site NetBlocks said.

Meanwhile, rumors of a cyber attack have been swirling on social media and Australian local news reports, although Optus has not confirmed any sort of malicious event.

According to NetBlocks, “authorities are said to be investigating possible cyberattack as trains and infrastructure disrupted.”

NetBlocks also reports said that the incident was heavily impacting payment systems within the transport sector.

Melbourne's Metro service posted several reports on X that services were “currently stopped due to a communications outage across the train network.”

The city urged customers to “consider alternate travel arrangements until further notice" as "major delays to all lines continue with select alterations and cancellations."

As of 11 a.m. AEDT, it seems the Metro train service was slowly being restored with delays at most locations according to its website.

Some major hospitals and medical facilities, including Western Sydney Health and the Royal Melbourne Hospital, were also reporting their phone lines had been impacted by the telco outage.

Other critical infrastructure services reported on X to be affected include the nation's NSW Poisons hotline, Lifeline suicide hotline, Coastal Care Disability Services, phone lines for the Government of the Australian Capital Territory, and the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) prescription hotline.

2nd breach for Optus

It’s not the first breach for Australia's 2nd largest telecommunication carrier.

Last September, Optus was hit by a cyberattack compromising the passport and driver's license numbers of nine million customers.

Federal Communications Minister Michelle Rowland told ABC Radio that the Australian government only had “limited information" about the current Optus situation and was "reluctant to speculate."

The Minister stated that if the incident was due to a cyberattack it “would indicate potentially a deep network problem and one that is significant."

The government is seeking further information from Optus about when services can be expected to be fully restored.

Optus is the Australian unit of telecoms firm Singapore Telecommunications.

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