Australian Information Commissioner reports cyber-attack increase

The latest number of data breaches in Australia have superseded previous quarterly figures, with most data breaches resulting from a malicious or criminal attack.

From October to December 2018, 262 data breaches were notified to affected individuals and the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC), compared to 245 the previous quarter.

The latest quarterly report from the Office of the OAIC shows 262 data breaches involving personal information were notified between October and December 2018.

Under the Notifiable Data Breaches scheme, organisations and agencies regulated under the Privacy Act must notify individuals and the OAIC when data breaches are likely to result in serious harm.

READ: Aussie businesses see themselves as a target for cyber attacks

The leading cause of notifiable data breaches in the December quarter was malicious or criminal attack (168 notifications), followed by human error (85 notifications) and system error (9 notifications).

Most data breaches resulting from a malicious or criminal attack involved cyber incidents stemming from compromised credentials (usernames and passwords), such as phishing and brute-force attacks.

Australian information commissioner and privacy commissioner Angelene Falk reinforced the need for organisations and individuals to secure personal information by safeguarding credentials.

“Preventing data breaches and improving cyber security must be a primary concern for any organisation entrusted with people’s personal information,” said Falk.

“Employees need to be made aware of the common tricks used by cyber criminals to steal usernames and passwords.

“The OAIC works with the Australian Cyber Security Centre to provide prevention strategies for organisations, including regularly resetting and not reusing passwords.

“If a data breach occurs, early notification can help anyone who is affected take action to prevent harm.

“By changing passwords, checking your credit report, and looking out for scams using your personal information, you can help minimise the harm that can result from a data breach,” said Falk.

The OAIC continues to work with entities to promote compliance with the scheme, and can take regulatory action in cases of non-compliance with notification obligations, she said.