Just in case anyone missed the irony, Optus is a giant in the communications world.
It makes billions of dollars every year by bringing people together through the most sophisticated technology on the planet so they can deliver their message instantly.
Oddly, the company’s senior management, led by Kelly Bayer Rosmarin, has yet to understand the importance of timely communication with its customers and anyone else affected by a network outage, even in the most severe cases. extremes.
Instead, he seems to operate under the mantra: don’t say anything, don’t admit anything, and it will all go away.
Once again, Australians have become aware of what appears to be a collapse of the national telecommunications network following an undeclared problem at Optus.
Rather than a data breach, this time it was a technical outage that crippled businesses, hit payment and banking systems, reduced health care payments, disrupted hospitals and plunged transportation networks in chaos.
Rather than alert Canberra or the community, Optus once again decided to stay silent for hours while a bewildered nation figured out for themselves what the problem was.
Ms. Bayer Rosmarin seems to have learned nothing.
On September 22 last year, around 9.8 million Australians had their personal information and other highly sensitive data stolen by cybercriminals who found easy access through insecure software known as user interface. application programming.
The episode quickly turned into a farce, with Ms. Bayer Rosmarin initially going missing before declaring that the data breach was the result of a high-tech hack, which was not the case. She then claimed that no data was stolen because everything was encrypted, which was not the case.
By the end of the affair, Optus had earned the unenviable nickname of the country’s least trusted brand, politicians on both sides of the House were baying for Bayer Rosmarin’s blood, and legions of customers hired an army of lawyers to launch class action lawsuits.
In a bid to finally regain community support, Bayer Rosmarin brought in consultants and hired Deloitte to conduct an investigation into the debacle.
“We are determined to find out what went wrong,” she said.
“This review will help us understand how this happened and how we can prevent it from happening again.”
And in what appeared to be a magnanimous gesture, the Optus boss claimed others could learn from the telco’s mistakes.
“This (report) could help other actors in the private and public sectors where sensitive data is held and there is a risk of cyber attack,” she said.
Unfortunately, this seems unlikely. The final report was delivered to senior management months ago, where it remained under lock and key.
Rules don’t apply
And now this. Rather than an immediate statement alerting customers to the crisis, or an early morning press conference to outline the extent of the problem, the Optus chief waited some time before calling ABC Radio.
Optus is not a publicly traded company. It was formerly listed on the Australian Securities Exchange before major shareholder Singapore Telecommunications chose to take it private.
So the laws surrounding disclosure – that any information that could affect the stock price must be made public – do not apply.
There also do not seem to be any conventions around the mandate of leaders.
Bayer Rosmarin apologized on Wednesday evening, after the latest problem was corrected.
The cause, she explained, was a “technical network problem.
” In what could be seen as a repeat of last year’s remedial efforts, she promised a “thorough root cause analysis” before more information can be provided.
But, she assured us, before dismissing a question about compensation, this type of failure was “very rare” although it had happened to other telecom operators, notably Australians.
The reputational damage caused by last year’s performance – where executive response turned a potential disaster into a catastrophe – would normally have been enough for a chorus of plaintiffs to successfully demand an executive shake-up.
Now there was a repeat just over a year later.
No advertising can be good advertising.
But refusing to engage usually guarantees that the resulting publicity will almost certainly be bad.