Telstra says newly acquired Pacnet hacked, customer data exposed

A woman uses a Telstra public phone in suburban Sydney, August 9, 2012. REUTERS/Daniel Munoz

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Australian telecommunications firm Telstra Corp Ltd said on Wednesday computer systems at its recently acquired undersea cable company Pacnet Ltd had been hacked, potentially exposing sensitive customer information to theft.

Telstra said the corporate information technology network of Pacnet, email and other business management systems of the company, had been accessed by an unauthorized third party several weeks before its $550 million takeover of the firm was completed on April 16. Telstra said it didn’t know who was behind the hack.

The telecommunications company said it could not determine whether personal details of Pacnet customers had been stolen, but it acknowledged those behind the breach had would have had the opportunity.

“We have no evidence that data was taken from the Pacnet corporate network,” Mike Burgess, corporate security and Investigations, chief information security officer at Telstra.

“While we will look into who was behind the breach we may never know as attribution is very difficult. We have not had any contact from the perpetrators nor do we know the reason behind this activity,” said Burgess.

Telstra sealed a deal worth A$697 million ($550 million) for Hong Kong and Singapore-based Pacnet and its 28,000-mile submarine network in December 2014.

The deal gave Telstra exposure to China’s growing network management industry as more companies use cloud computing, and more office workers access company email and servers remotely.

Reporting by Colin Packham; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell