Archive: February 18, 2019

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To encrypt or not encrypt? That is the question
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Q4 NOTIFIABLE DATA BREACHES CONTINUE TO RISE

To encrypt or not encrypt? That is the question

By Cameron Abbott and Ella Richards

In response to the new controversial anti-encryption laws, Australian tech heavyweights have banded together to kick and scream over the restrictive implications the laws are already having on their industry.

Quick history lesson; the Assistance and Access Bill permit law enforcement to demand companies running applications such as Whatsapp to allow “lawful access to information”. This can be through either decryption of encrypted technology, or providing access to communications which are not yet encrypted. These ‘backdoors’ are intended to provide the good guys with the opportunity to fight serious crime, however there’s serious fear that in reality, these doors could throw out privacy or let in unwanted guests.

While the legislation states that backdoors should only be created if it doesn’t result in any ‘systemic weakness’; this is yet to be defined in a concrete and informative way. Industry points out that once created any such measure has the potential to be exploited by others. There is no such thing as a “once” only back door.

There is little doubt that this will end up in litigation as larger industry players challenge the abstract concepts in the legislation against the reality of their technology.

StartupAUS, an industry group of tech executives, have made several recommendations to amend the legislation. Even though they’re not holding their breath for any significant changes, they’re demanding more transparency around the requirements. Their recommendations include scrapping the requirement for an employee to build capabilities to intercept communications, tightening the scope of ‘designated communication providers’, giving oversight on how companies will be targeted and increasing what constitutes a ‘serious offence’.

Australia’s legislative response to the problem faced by law enforcement is one of the most heavy handed in the democratic world, and now has the world of technology companies with their significant impact on our economy watching the latest debate on reforms with great concern.

Q4 NOTIFIABLE DATA BREACHES CONTINUE TO RISE

By Cameron Abbott, Rob Pulham and Ella Richards.

The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) has released its fourth quarter report of notifiable data breaches between October – December 2018.

The report exposed that the OAIC received 262 notifications of data breaches, which has increased from the 245 notifications that were reported the previous quarter. Below are the key findings from their report:

  • The OAIC report identified the top five sectors who reported data breaches. Private health service providers reported 54 breaches, the finance sector reported 40 breaches, professional services reported 23 breaches, private education providers reported 21 breaches and the mining and manufacturing industry has made its first appearance with a reported 12 breaches.
  • 85% of data breaches involved individual’s contact details, 47% involved financial details, 36% involved identity details, 27% involved health details, 18% involved tax file numbers, and 9% involved other types of personal information.
  • The sources of breach varied, with 64% of data breaches due to malicious or criminal attack, 33% due to human error, and 3% due to system faults.
  • The report also breaks down the breach types per industry. Interestingly, the finance sector experienced the most malicious cyber attacks, and human error dominated the healthcare sector.

Even though 60% of the total breaches involved personal information of 100 individuals or fewer, there were a couple of notifications affecting a significantly higher number of individuals (including one that affected more than 1 million individuals). Human error breaches resulting in the unauthorised disclosure of personal information (via unintended release or publication) impacted an average of more than 17,000 individuals per breach (though this average seems likely to have been skewed by some particularly large breaches), and the failure to securely dispose of personal information affected an average of 300 individuals per breach.

Most data breaches resulted from malicious attacks which gain access through compromised credentials (such as phishing emails or stolen username and passwords). So, if you believe that the email from your CEO requesting your bank details for your exorbitant raise is legitimate, think again!

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