The recent massive outage of 10 million Optus phone accounts and its data network appears to be a result of hacking, according to many Cairns News IT experts. This incident has raised major concerns and is considered to be a huge wake-up call, especially for the federal Labor. The Labor party has been preparing to enforce National ID legislation early next year. This event has significantly amplified public worries about cybersecurity and the potential threats of a cashless society.
The Reserve Bank has been preparing plans for a cashless society for at least two years. However, the recent Optus disaster has witnessed the potential repercussions of such a transition. If Australia were to adopt a cashless system, businesses would be at risk of shutting down, and individuals might struggle to afford daily necessities.
The failure of one of the world’s largest phone companies to protect its network from hacking has raised concerns about the government’s capability to secure sensitive information of 25 million Australians. The government’s plan to store this information in a centralized system raises concerns about its vulnerability to cyber attacks. Australia’s vulnerability to cyber attacks is a stark reality; most private corporations and many government computers have been previously hacked by foreign entities.
The proposed National ID system seeks to centralize personal data that would be accessible to private corporations subscribing to the system. This opens the possibility of exposing sensitive information to scams operating globally. Regardless, the Minister for Labor, Katy Gallagher, insists that the new ID system will be safe and secure, ensuring the privacy of individual data.
However, several concerns still persist. With the increasing availability and integration of advanced artificial intelligence (AI) technology into mainstream computer systems, the security of sensitive information remains a major concern. The adeptness of the world’s best hackers, particularly in countries like China and Russia, is another growing threat.
The revelation that the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), an independent regulatory authority that is understood to be under-resourced, will be designated to administer the ID data, has sparked public skepticism.
Amidst this debacle, the recent network outage has brought the topic of a cashless society to the forefront. With businesses forced to offer cash-only purchases due to the unavailability of EFTPOS machines during the Optus network disruption, the vulnerabilities of a cashless society have become more evident. Other carriers that are reliant on the Optus mobile network also experienced service disruptions.
As a result of these events, it is evident that the prospects of a cashless society need thorough consideration, along with the implications it might have on cybersecurity and everyday transactions. The recent network failure is a clear indicator of how a lack of technological infrastructure can affect the lives of people and businesses across the country. The government needs to address the cybersecurity concerns and strengthen the existing technology infrastructure before implementing ambitious changes such as a cashless society and a National ID system.
Overall, it is imperative for the authorities to reevaluate both the National ID legislation and the establishment of a cashless society. The focus should be on enhancing cybersecurity measures and ensuring the privacy and protection of sensitive personal information.