TSTT Update on Cybersecurity Issue - November 3, 2023
TSTT Corporate Communications
As a follow-up to our previous statement regarding the cyber security issue and the company’s ongoing investigation, we are providing the following update to address third party statements that have been in the public domain since our last release, some of which are erroneous, mischievous, and damaging.
Background and Context
TSTT reiterates that it is committed to safeguarding the safety and security of customers' information and takes matters related to cyber security seriously. Cyber threats are a continuous feature of modern digital operating systems and have become increasingly sophisticated and their frequency has increased significantly. Telecommunications infrastructure is no exception to these threats and incursions. TSTT has continuously invested millions of dollars in resources in its processes and IT infrastructure to protect its systems and the data it produces and stores. On October 09, 2023, cyber attackers attempted to gain unauthorised access to TSTT’s systems. The company took immediate steps to minimise the security vulnerability, successfully isolating its systems and applications. These applications were subsequently quarantined, rebuilt and put back into production as part of clearly defined policies and procedures. The company also enlisted the support of internationally recognised cyber security experts and partners in investigating the attempted breach and advising on the implementation of appropriate additional security measures and protocols. Some of these recommendations have already been implemented.
Analysing the data
During the past seven days, TSTT has been working with its international cyber security experts and has undertaken a rigorous examination of data published on the dark web after a ransomware group claimed ownership of a cyberattack on the telecommunications company.
Although the published material was easily accessible, the corroboration process was time consuming because it required cross referencing data across multiple extensive databases to verify sources. With the support of our cyber security consultants, the company has determined that the data released contains largely identifying information, and TSTT apologises to those customers whose information was accessed by these cyber terrorists. While the company is still scrutinising the data, the 6GB accessed represents less than 1% of the petabytes of data the company produces and stores. Moreover, it represents information of a small subset of TSTT’s customer base. A single customer could generate hundreds or thousands of records of non-critical, non-sensitive transactions. The majority of TSTT’s customers’ information was not accessed.
It was also determined that some of the data was accessed from a legacy system, which is no longer utilised by TSTT but which contains data that is, in many instances, no longer valid. This data is kept to ensure TSTT is compliant with relevant laws as it relates to retention of customer information.
With this context, the subset of information accessed contains the following parameters:
What is included
ID Scans (limited amount)
Some customer account information, (Account #, billing addresses, and some mobile numbers)
Letters of authorisation: this permits someone to conduct transactions with TSTT on someone’s behalf
What is not included
TSTT’s investigation has found that no customer passwords or credentials were accessed.
Due to the nature of the data accessed, internal and external security analysts have advised that there is no elevated risk of fraudulent activity for the group of customers impacted. Some of the information can already be easily accessed via the telephone directory’s white pages. However, TSTT reminds all customers to be vigilant and alert to potential scams and fraudulent activity and report them where necessary.
It is important to note that certain statements currently in the public domain regarding the publication of personal data are inaccurate and invalid. TSTT does not request, require and/or store on its databases any of the following information related to its customers:
Credit Card information
Approvals for housing
There is therefore little chance of such information being accessed or published because of the cyber incursion. This underscores the importance of verifying the source and validity of any information or data in the public domain.
TSTT also wishes to address false, misleading, and damaging statements regarding its data centre. TSTT’s data centre (TIA 942-B, Rated 3, SOC-2, DCOS Maturity Level 3 and ISO) is the most secure, resilient and reliable data centre in Trinidad and Tobago, the Caribbean and ranked highly in the Latin American region.
TSTT categorically refutes claims that its data centre was breached and therefore any claims of our corporate client data or credentials being accessed as a result of an alleged breach of our data centre is totally inaccurate, ill-informed and mischievous.
We strongly urge responsible parties to exercise utmost caution and responsibility when publishing and disseminating information. Due to the sensitive nature of this, it is imperative to verify and obtain information from credible and expert sources, as inaccurate and misleading reports can misinform and potentially damage public trust and also harm our company. This is why TSTT is taking meticulous steps to thoroughly verify all information. We also urge members of the public to exercise discernment in the information they consume, ensuring they receive it from credible and reputable sources to make well-informed decisions.