Operation Guardian expands to combat further cybercrime

The AFP has expanded Operation Guardian to help protect Latitude Services customers whose personal information has been stolen by cybercriminals.

Operation Guardian, a joint initiative with state and territory police run through the AFP-led Joint Policing Cybercrime Coordination Centre (JPC3), was set up in September 2022 to protect more than 10,000 customers whose personal information was unlawfully released online after the Optus data breach. It was also extended to Medibank Private customers.

There is no evidence to date that the personal details of Latitude Services customers are available, or being sold on online or dark web forums.

However, Operation Guardian is already working with public and private sector agencies to scour the internet and known criminal online sites to identify those who are attempting to buy or are selling personally identifiable information (PII). Investigators will extend that protection to Latitude customers.

It is an offence to buy stolen personal information online, which could include a penalty of up to 10 years’ imprisonment. It is also an offence to blackmail or menace customers.

The AFP will take immediate action – through disruption capability or charges – if individuals or groups are selling stolen personal information online.

A Sydney man was convicted in Sydney Downing Centre District Court on 7 February, 2023, for trying to blackmail Optus customers. He was charged by the AFP last year under Operation Guardian.

The public are encouraged to:

  • Look out for any suspicious or unexpected activity across your online accounts, including your telco, bank and utilities accounts. Make sure to report any suspicious activity in your bank account immediately to your financial institution;
  • Be wary of phishing, do not click on any links in any email or SMS;

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