Teen finds loophole in network

Tim Williams of Grafton discovered a loophole in the Optus and Vodafone networks which allowed users to gain free internet access.
Tim Williams of Grafton discovered a loophole in the Optus and Vodafone networks which allowed users to gain free internet access. Adam Hourigan

HIS honesty may have won him gracious praise from Optus and Vodafone, but the deeds of Grafton teen Tim Williams might not give everyone a reason to celebrate.

While casually browsing the net, the 19-year-old stumbled upon a loophole in the mobile broadband networks of both Optus and Vodafone that allowed all users to gain internet access – absolutely free.

Using an Optus pre-paid account, Tim discovered he could gain free internet access to sites including and without credit.

Deciding to investigate further, the computer whiz then created his own sub-domain and set up a proxy which allowed him to access any site, despite having zero credit on his Optus account.

But instead of spreading the word like wildfire and becoming a local legend to Clarence Valley youths, Tim acted with integrity and reported his find to Optus customer service who promptly acted to repair the problem.

“After I created my sub-domain and proxy, I set up a VPN (virtual private network) to encrypt the traffic on the sites and I found everything worked perfectly,” he said.

“I was also able to get free internet access via Vodafone.

“Both network firewalls allowed anything through as long as or was part of the URL.

“The net hole was just something I accidentally stumbled across. I wanted the right people to know about it.”

While some people might call him crazy and a dobber for exposing his find, Tim maintains it wasn’t a hard decision to make.

The manager of his local business branch, Black Hat Computers, Tim said it was important Optus and Vodafone were alerted to the hole.

“It had to be done,” he said.

“There were probably a lot of people out there accessing the internet for free.”

Optus representatives have thanked Tim for coming forward with his information. Neither company had any prior knowledge of the hole in their networks.

Tim said he has not tested whether free internet access can be gained on a Telstra network.

Topics:  internet optus vodafone

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