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31 Jul 2018

Notifiable Data Breaches Second Quarterly Report Released

The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) has received 242 notifications under the Notifiable Data Breaches (NDB) scheme in the period 1 April to 30 June 2018, according to the second quarterly statistical report on data breach notifications received under the scheme, released today. This is the first full quarter of operation of the NDB scheme since it commenced on 22 February 2018.

The growing number of notifications under the scheme demonstrates an awareness by entities of their obligations to notify the OAIC and affected individuals where a breach of personal information is likely to result in serious harm. Since the scheme commenced on 22 February 2018, the OAIC has received 305 notifications in total.

The OAIC’s acting Australian Information Commissioner and acting Privacy Commissioner, Angelene Falk, said ‘Notifications this quarter show that one of the key aims of the scheme – ensuring individuals are made aware when the security of their personal data is compromised – is being met. Data breach notification to individuals by the entities experiencing the data breach can equip individuals with the information they need to take steps to reduce their risk of experiencing harm, which can reduce the overall impact of a breach.

‘Notification to the OAIC also increases transparency and accountability. The report provides important information on the causes of data breaches so all entities can learn lessons and put in place prevention strategies.

‘The OAIC continues to work with entities to ensure compliance with the scheme, offer advice and guidance in response to notifications, and consider appropriate regulatory action in cases of non-compliance.’

According to the report, human error (88 notifications or 36%) continues to be a major cause of the breaches, with the most common human error being emails containing personal information sent to the wrong recipient. The risks of these types of data breaches can be greatly reduced by ensuring that staff responsible for handling personal information receive regular training.

Key Statistics From The Report Include:

  • A total of 242 notifications were made under the NDB scheme in the quarter. In the January to March 2018 quarter, 63 notifications were received. (This was a partial reporting period due to the scheme commencing on 22 February 2018.)
  • Of the 242 notifications in this quarter, the primary source of breaches was malicious or criminal attacks (142 notifications or 59 per cent), followed by human error (88 notifications or 36 per cent) and system faults (12 notifications or 5 per cent).
  • The report shows that the majority of malicious or criminal breaches reported were cyber incidents, linked to the compromise of credentials (user names and passwords).
  • The most common human errors were:-
    •  An email containing personal information sent to the wrong recipient (22 notifications)
    • Unintended release or publication of personal information (12 notifications)
    • Personal information sent by mail to the wrong mail recipient (10 notifications)
  • Most data breaches involved the personal information of 100 or fewer individuals (148 notifications or 61 per cent of breaches). Thirty-eight per cent (or 93 reported breaches) impacted ten or fewer people.
  • The private health sector is the top sector for reporting data breaches under the Australian NDB scheme with 49 notifications in the quarter (noting that these notifications do not relate to the My Health Records system), followed by the finance sector with 36 notifications.


How Will A Cyber Insurance Policy Help?

A Cyber Insurance policy will play a fundamental role in providing your organisation with cover for costs incurred when making a data breach notification.  Most insurers will provide a 24/7/365 day incident response hotline, giving you access to specialist vendor panel with local, regional and global capabilities.

You can read a full copy of the report here

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