Archive: October 2016

1
Data breach penalties could cost U.K. companies £122B in 2018
2
Threat from hackers against Internet of Things grows
3
Australian organisations hit by thousands of significant cyber incidents
4
Victorian ruling clarifies application of privacy principles to social media accounts
5
UK telecoms company handed record fine for data breach

Data breach penalties could cost U.K. companies £122B in 2018

By Cameron Abbott and Rebecca Murray

U.K. businesses could face up to £122 billion in penalties for data breaches when EU legislation comes into effect in 2018, according the Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council (PCI SSC). The EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will introduce fines for groups of companies of to €20 million or 4% of annual worldwide turnover, significantly higher than the current maximum of £500,000. This means that if data breaches remain at 2015 levels, the fines paid to the European regulator could see a near 90-fold increase, from £1.4 billion in 2015 to £122 billion, the PCI SSC calculated. For large U.K. organisations, this could see regulatory fines for data breaches soar to £70 billion, more than a 130-fold increase, rising to an average of £11 million per organisation. Regulatory fines for SMEs could see a 57-fold increase, rising to £52 billion, averaging £13,000 per SME. Read more at ComputerWeekly.com by clicking here.

 

Threat from hackers against Internet of Things grows

By Cameron Abbott and Rebecca Murray

New research by Akamai Technologies has revealed that cyber criminals have cracked into as many as two million Internet-of-Things (IoT) devices at homes and businesses. IoT devices are products that connect to the internet, which now include refrigerators, sound systems, televisions and home security systems. In the report, researchers state that “Once malicious users access the web administration console of these device they can then compromise the device’s data and in some cases, take over the machine.” This report sheds much needed light on one of the most under-focused on areas of cyber security. Read the report here.

Australian organisations hit by thousands of significant cyber incidents

By Cameron Abbott and Rebecca Murray

The Australian Cyber Security Centre’s (ACSC) 2016 Threat Report has revealed that Australian businesses and government have been subject to more than 15,000 significant incidents that they know of. Read the report here. They were the first to admit that given reporting is optional they cannot really determine the full impact.

Due to the current reporting regime, the ACSC has had to rely on data from callouts to CERT Australia (the national first responder to cyber incidents) to assess the extent of the problem in the private sector. CERT Australia responded to 14,804 incidents from the private sector from June 2015 to June 2016. Of those callouts, 418 involved systems of national interest and critical infrastructure. The banking, finance, energy and communications sectors were the most heavily targeted.

While the Government has introduced a bill to mandate serious data breach notification that is set to be passed in the near future (find out more about the bill here), until then, we will continue to go mostly unaware of damaging malicious cyber activity launched against Australian organisations because the private sector largely refuses report these incidents.

Victorian ruling clarifies application of privacy principles to social media accounts

By Cameron Abbott and Rebecca Murray

The Victorian Supreme Court recently confirmed that an employer was not obliged to immediately notify an employee that it was accessing her Facebook messages during a disciplinary investigation. This case clarifies the manner in which the Victorian Information Privacy Principles (IPPs) apply to social media.

In this case, an employer conducted an investigation into an employee after a colleague reported her for making a number of abusive remarks over Facebook. During the investigation, the employer accessed the employee’s Facebook messages without her knowledge. She was subsequently found guilty of misconduct and given a final warning.

The employee appealed the case to the Supreme Court of Victoria after the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) found that her employer had complied with the IPPs. In her appeal, she questioned whether the ways her employer collected and used the information was necessary “for the purposes of a workplace disciplinary investigation” and whether accessing it without her knowledge or consent was “necessary for one or more of the organisations functions or activities’ for the purposes of IPP 1.1”.

The Supreme Court of Victoria confirmed VCAT’s finding that collecting further information was necessary under IPP 1.1 as the employer was conducting a misconduct investigation “which was a legitimate purpose” and said there was nothing to suggest its approach was inconsistent with the right to privacy. Furthermore, the court found that VCAT was correct in finding that IPP 1.3 (and 1.5) did not impose an obligation of immediate notification on the employer as it could have jeopardised the integrity of the disciplinary investigation. Access the IPPs here. and read the court’s decision here.

Importantly, this case demonstrates that privacy law doesn’t automatically prevent employers from accessing the social media accounts of their employees to conduct investigations in appropriate circumstances.

UK telecoms company handed record fine for data breach

By Cameron Abbott and Rebecca Murray

Major UK telecoms company, TalkTalk has been fined £400,000 for failing to adequately safeguard personal data when they were hacked in October 2015. The Information Commissioner’s Office’s (ICO) investigation revealed that hackers obtained the details of 156,959 customers, including names, addresses, birthdates, phone numbers and email addresses. In over 15,000 cases, hackers even gained access to bank account details and sort codes. The cyber-attack triggered the launch of a committee inquiry into protection of personal data online. You can read the inquiry report here.

After in depth investigation, the ICO found that TalkTalk’s failure to implement even the most basic cyber security measures allowed hackers to easily penetrate its systems causing substantial damage and distress to its customers. See how the investigation unfolded here and read the ICO’s penalty notice here. The ICO identified TalkTalk’s principal errors as failing to actively monitor its own activities and allowing vulnerabilities to go unnoticed, failing to update its database to protect from bugs, failing to respond to two previous attacks on the same webpages and failing to fix a bug in the software for which a fix was readily available.

It would seem regulators are losing patience with organizations that don’t take their security obligations seriously.

Copyright © 2019, K&L Gates LLP. All Rights Reserved.