Identity of ‘third party’ behind Optus outage revealed

The mysterious “international peering network” that contributed to Optus’ major network failure last week was its parent company, Singtel, based in Singapore, it has been claimed.

Sources claim that Optus have not named Singtel publicly because its board was visiting Sydney last week for discussions with Optus executives, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.

An Optus insider said that the Singtel internet Exchange, commonly known as STiX, was the undisclosed third-party “partner” mentioned in Optus’s official statement.

The statement claimed that routing information sent by a partner during a routine software upgrade was a key factor in the network malfunction.

“At around 4.05am Wednesday morning, the Optus network received changes to routing information from an international peering network following a routine software upgrade,” Monday’s statement read.

But according to the source, the crucial software update took place at the Singtel internet Exchange, not within the Optus network.

The updated routing information subsequently cascaded through various layers of the Optus network, surpassing “preset safety levels” on vital routers.

These routers, unable to handle the overload, disconnected from Optus’ core network as a self-protective measure, it was reported.

The newspaperreported that technicians had to be dispatched nationwide to address offline routers and restore services, causing significant delays in the process.

The Singtel Internet Exchange, identified as one of many global internet peering exchanges facilitating large-scale data movement, enables networks to connect and exchange traffic directly, often bypassing third-party data carriers.

This practice reduces traffic movement costs and enhances overall network performance and redundancy.

Despite Singtel‘s alleged role in triggering the outage, an insider told the paper that the primary responsibility for the incident lies with the Australian telco.

The engineer said: “It’s still Optus’ fault when it comes to its own network (unless Singtel required Optus to accept routes blindly).”

Those who spoke to the masthead, including external network engineers, argued that Optus should have implemented filtering rules to dismiss or ignore updates from the Singtel exchange, preventing the widespread disruption.

Optus has been contacted about the claims but has declined to comment.

Last week’s network outage impacted around 10 million Optus customers, prompting some to abandon the telecommunications provider just over a year after enduring the worst cyber breach in Australian history.

Optus’ main competitor, Telstra, has relished some positive blowback in its direction following the outage.

Speaking at the annual investor day, Telstra chief executive Vicki Brady said the provider has gained new customers following the 14-hour Optus outage last week.

She said that was also the case following last year’s catastrophic cyber breach.

“Post last week’s outage, yes, we’ve seen some increase in acquisition of customers,” Ms Brady said on Tuesday.

“There’s been some speculation about how large that could be, and I would just go back to the cyber breach last year … we saw elevated acquisition levels for around a six-week period.

“But at the end of the day, there wasn’t a significant shift in share in the market.”

On Friday, Optus CEO Kelly Bayer Rosmarin will appear before a Senate inquiry to address the outage.

Originally published as ’Third party’ responsible for bringing down the Optus network has been revealed: Report