Category: Breaches

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Riding in cars with hackers
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Old-school thieving causes latest university data breach
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Uniformity of Law: NSW Government opens consultation to consider making Data Breach Reporting mandatory in respect of State Government Agencies
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Cyber diligence: Study reveals cybersecurity concerns are becoming a critical factor in M&A due diligence
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The OAIC engages in more in-depth investigations and stronger exercise of its power
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Major privacy and security breaches confirmed this week: Westpac, the ANU and Princess Polly targeted
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PwC’s Enforcement Tracker finds a large increase in fines for privacy breaches in the UK
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Surveillance software targets WhatsApp users
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Scammers are becoming more tech-savvy according to the ACCC’s Targeting Scams report
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PROPOSAL TO INCREASE PENALTIES FOR PRIVACY BREACHES

Riding in cars with hackers

By Cameron Abbott, Michelle Aggromito and Alyssia Totham

Ransom-based hacking techniques have primarily been limited to the intangible. We live in a world where unauthorised access to email accounts, bank accounts, and computer systems that may otherwise be private is no longer uncommon.

In some situations, hackers demand a lump sum in return for reinstating control of the accounts and systems to its owners and managers, and otherwise refusing to pay this ransom can likely leave our information and data at the mercy of hackers.

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Old-school thieving causes latest university data breach

By Cameron Abbott and Alyssia Totham

Thirty years’ worth of student data from the University of Western Australia (UWA) has been stolen. Archaic and unconventional in the world of cyber security and data protection, this data breach resulted from the theft of laptops from the University. The number of laptops stolen and the number of students affected remains undisclosed by the University.

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Uniformity of Law: NSW Government opens consultation to consider making Data Breach Reporting mandatory in respect of State Government Agencies

By Cameron Abbott, Warwick Anderson and Max Evans

We have blogged numerous times on the notifiable data breach scheme provided for in Part IIIC of Privacy Act 1988 (Cth) including more recently in relation to its success in assisting the preparedness of the health sector to report and respond to data breaches.

Whilst the NSW Information Privacy Commissioner recommends that public sector agencies notify it and affected individuals where a data breach creates a risk of serious harm, neither NSW privacy laws nor the notifiable data breach scheme require public sector agencies in NSW to provide such notification. There are many reasons for state government agencies to mandatorily report data breaches. Informing citizens when privacy breaches occur provides an opportunity for individual protection against potentially adverse consequences, whilst mandatory data breach reporting would address the current under-reporting of data breaches in NSW, which according to the consultation may be the norm.

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Cyber diligence: Study reveals cybersecurity concerns are becoming a critical factor in M&A due diligence

By Cameron Abbott and Rebecca Gill

Unreported data breaches have disrupted several major M&A deals in recent years, such as Marriott International’s merger with the Starwood hotel chain. The growing list of cautionary (and costly) tales appears to be making an impression in the M&A space, as a recent study of IT professionals and business executives by Forescout Technologies has found.

The study queried a total of 2,779 respondents from all over the world, and found that 93% of the respondents viewed cybersecurity evaluations as important to their companies’ M&A decision-making processes. Respondents also ranked a target company’s history of cybersecurity incidents as the second most important factor when performing due diligence on the business, following the company’s financial statements.

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The OAIC engages in more in-depth investigations and stronger exercise of its power

By Cameron Abbott, Rob Pulham and Jacqueline Patishman

Following two key data incidents concerning how the Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) handled data, the OAIC has successfully taken court action binding the banking heavyweight to “substantially improve its privacy practices”.

As a quick summary of the incidents, the first incident involved the loss of magnetic storage tapes (which are used to print account statements). These contained historical customer data including customer statements of up to 20 million bank customers. In 2016, the CBA was unable to confirm that the two magnetic tapes were securely disposed of after the scheduled destruction by a supplier.

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Major privacy and security breaches confirmed this week: Westpac, the ANU and Princess Polly targeted

By Cameron Abbott, Allison Wallace and Rebecca Gill

It’s been a chilly start to winter for three Australian organisations, who’ve this week reported major privacy and security breaches.

Up to 100,000 Australians’ personal information has been exposed in a hack affecting Westpac Bank. Westpac confirmed on Monday that details of Australian bank customers (not just those of Westpac) were exposed in a cyberattack on real time payments platform PayID. The banking giant says it noted a high volume of PayID lookups in 2019 on a semi-daily basis, which was a result of attackers trying to guess phone numbers, which, if guessed correctly, would give them the name of the account holder to which the number is linked. Despite the hack, Westpac says that no customer bank account details were compromised as a result of this cyberattack. Nevertheless, experts warn that the details accessed could still be used to commit fraud.

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PwC’s Enforcement Tracker finds a large increase in fines for privacy breaches in the UK

By Cameron Abbott and Rebecca Gill

PwC’s UK Privacy & Security Enforcement Tracker has found that fines in the UK over data protection law violations totalled £6.5 million in 2018, a £2 million increase from 2017.

The Tracker analysed data protection enforcement actions by the UK Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), including monetary fines, prosecutions and undertakings. The Tracker shows that the total sum of fines increased from 2017, but the number of ICO enforcements fell to 67 in 2018 from 91 in 2017.

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Surveillance software targets WhatsApp users

By Cameron Abbott, Rob Pulham and Michelle Aggromito

Unfortunately for all of us, Privacy Awareness Week doesn’t mean a chance to take a break from seemingly endless data breach notifications and social media vulnerabilities.

This week it’s WhatsApp’s turn, with reports that hackers, or as WhatsApp described as “an advanced cyber-actor”, have been able to remotely install surveillance software on phones and other devices of select targets, likely to be lawyers, journalists, activists and human rights defenders. The hackers were able to compromise the devices by using WhatsApp’s call function to ring the devices. The surveillance software was still installed even if the call was not picked up and the call reportedly would disappear from the compromised device’s call log. This means the malware could be installed without any action from the compromised user – and potentially without them even being able to determine that they had been compromised.

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Scammers are becoming more tech-savvy according to the ACCC’s Targeting Scams report

By Cameron Abbott and Rebecca Gill

Australian businesses and consumers were duped into paying scammers with nearly half a billion dollars in 2018 according to the ACCC’s Targeting Scams: Report of the ACCC on scam activity 2018 (Report). The Report also highlights the use of sophisticated technology by scammers.

According to the Report, the most financially harmful scam affecting Australian businesses was the ‘business email compromise’ (BEC) scam. This involved a scammer gaining access to a business’s entire email or IT system. The scammer would then impersonate the business and send emails to suppliers and customers of the business, advising changes to payment details.

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PROPOSAL TO INCREASE PENALTIES FOR PRIVACY BREACHES

By Cameron Abbott and Rebecca Gill

In light of concerns over how personal data is being used by social media platforms and tech companies, the Commonwealth Government has proposed amendments to the Privacy Act in order to more harshly penalise companies for privacy breaches. The new regime, which aims to update Australia’s privacy laws in line with increased social media use, will see tougher penalties for all entities that are subject to the Privacy Act, not just the headline companies like Google and Facebook.

The Commonwealth Government proposes to increase the penalties for serious or repeated breaches by such entities from $2.1 million to $10 million, or three times the value of any benefit obtained through the misuse of information, or 10 per cent of a company’s annual domestic turnover – whichever is the greater value.

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