Australian Information Commissioner publishes data breach statistics for 1 October – 31 December 2018 with 262 notified data breaches. Likely it is a understatement of the number of breaches in that quarter

February 12, 2019 |

The Information has published its Notifiable Data Breaches Quarterly Statistics Report for the last quarter of 2018.

The media release provides:

The latest quarterly report from the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (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.

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,” Ms Falk said.

“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.”

Ms Falk said 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.

The OAIC website has advice for individuals affected by a data breach, and prevention strategies for organisations developed with the Australian Cyber Security Centre.

Key statistics

The Notifiable Data Breaches October – December 2018 report show

  • 262 data breaches were notified to affected individuals and the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner, compared to 245 the previous quarter:
    • 64% were attributed to malicious or criminal attacks, compared to 57% the previous quarter
    • 33% were attributed to human error, compared to 37% the previous quarter
    • 3% were attributed to system faults, compared to 6% the previous quarter
  • 60% involved the personal information of 100 or fewer individuals, compared to 63% the previous quarter
  • The top five sectors to report breaches were:
    • Private health service providers: 54
    • Finance: 40
    • Legal, accounting and management services: 23
    • Private education providers: 21
    • Mining and manufacturing: 12

These figures do not represent the true size of the data breaches that have occurred in the last quarter. The data breach notification law while mandatory in respect of the reporting if the breach meets the criteria the criteria involves subjective analysis. The criteria are quite vague and the guidelines do not assist in providing more certainty. In addition there are those organisations who were not caught by the operations of the Privacy where there is no obligation to report a data breach.

Leave a Reply