With the cyber threat landscape significantly evolving, we are seeing companies – large and small – experience attacks. Recent high-profile attacks have shown that these breaches are alarming, targeting a range of sectors. With millions of Australians more concerned about their privacy than ever before, the federal government is making privacy a priority with the Attorney-General’s Department recently releasing 116 recommendations to amend the Privacy Act. The federal government has also made proposals to consider a new Cyber Security Act and strengthen existing laws around this space.Read More
The theme of this year’s Privacy Awareness Week (PAW) is “back to basics”. It’s fitting to consider some lessons arising from recent high-profile breaches affecting millions of Australians, and the consistent messages we’ve been hearing from the Australian Information Commissioner in the midst of those incidents.
Data breaches can happen to anyone. We know cyberattacks can be big business, and sophisticated criminal networks make a good living from these. And if your organisation has taken reasonable steps to avoid or mitigate such breaches, the fact you’ve encountered one will not, of itself, be held against you.Read More
We saw last year how low hackers are willing to stoop to shame companies into paying ransoms, including leaking sensitive information aimed at embarrassing individuals affected by data breaches. As a result we also saw prominent calls for ransom payments to be ‘banned’, to reduce the financial incentives for hackers to target Australians’ personal information.
We are now hearing the flipside to that argument, with AGL Energy warning that a government-imposed ban on companies paying cyber ransoms to hackers could cause “catastrophic damage”.Read More
Presumably inspired by the recently released “Honor Among Thieves”, a film based on table-top roleplaying game Dungeons & Dragons, the Australian government invited representatives from the Reserve Bank, the AFP and regulators ASIC and APRA for a three-hour session of cybersecurity roleplay. Further exercises are expected to be conducted with major banks and financial services, and eventually with the aviation sector and other critical infrastructure areas.Read More
Proceedings led by the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) against Facebook, Inc. (Facebook) for their role in the Cambridge Analytica scandal will finally proceed in the Federal Court of Australia.Read More
Shortly after the Government announced their ambition to make Australia a global leader in cyber security, Australia has been named the country with “the greatest progress and commitment toward creating a cyber defence environment” in MIT’s Cyber Defence Index of 2022/23.
However, the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner’s latest notifiable data breaches report paints a different picture. The Commissioner reported a 26% increase in the number of total reported data breaches and a 41% increase in the number of reported data breaches arising from malicious or criminal attacks compared with the first half of 2022. Health service providers and the finance sector were the worst hit, together representing almost a third of reported data breaches.
In releasing the report, the Commissioner once again stressed the need for organisations to collect only the minimum amount of personal information required and deleting it when it is no longer needed. In the report the Commissioner has recommended a number of steps to address the kinds of issues featured in the second half of 2022, including:Read More
By Amigo L. Xie
2023 is destined to be a big year for the hottest issues of the China Personal Information Protection Law (PIPL) for MNCs doing business in or with China especially in the areas of: cross-border personal data transfers, localization, compliance, and enforcement.
It is worth noting the following milestones in your timeline for China data privacy compliance in 2023:Read More
Not content with merely implementing broad-scale privacy reform, the Government has announced a new position, the Coordinator for Cyber Security to be added to the Department of Home Affairs as a step towards their aim of “making Australia the most cyber secure nation by 2030“. This would seem to be a rather aspirational target!
The Coordinator will be supported by a National Office for Cyber Security, and their role will be to oversee steps to prevent future cyber security incidents and to help manage cyber incidents as they occur.Read More
The section of the Report dealing with the employee records exemption highlighted significant debate and difference of opinion. Employers expressed a strong desire to retain or even strengthen the exemption; employee representatives consider reform is needed.
In that context the Report does not conclude how the changes should take effect, but proposals 7.1(a)-7.1(d) recommend stronger protection of private sector employee information, to:
- enhance transparency over what employee information is collected and why
- ensure employers have adequate flexibility to deal with employees’ information to administer the employment relationship (and addressing whether consent should be required to collect sensitive information)
- ensure adequate security and destruction measures around employee personal information, and
- notify employees and the OAIC of data breaches involving employee personal information.
What does this mean for my organisation?
Private sector employers who don’t yet have a good grasp of the breadth of information they collect and hold about their employees will need to stocktake their collection activities and sharpen their focus on why they collect such information; prepare appropriate collection notices and employee privacy policies (if not used already); and ensure employee information is appropriately covered in their security measures and considered in their data breach response plans.Read More
Under proposals 4.1-4.4 of the Report, changes to broaden the definition of Personal Information are on the horizon. Under the proposed amendments, the word “about” in the definition of Personal Information will be amended to “relates to”. That is – “information or an opinion that relates to an identified individual…”. This brings the definition in line with other legislative frameworks that regulate privacy and ensures consistency with the language used in the GDPR definition of ‘Personal Data’.
Amendment of the definition of ‘collection’ is also proposed to expressly cover information obtained by any means, including inferred or generated information. The Report also states that ‘reasonably identifiable’ should be supported by a non-exhaustive list of circumstances to which APP entities will be expected to have regard to in their assessment of what is ‘Personal Information’.
What does this mean for my organisation?
With such a broader interpretation, APP entities will need to have regard to a larger set of information that could fall within the definition. This will see information such as mobile location data, IP addresses, social media handles, mobile advertising IDs and other technical information more clearly fall within the definition.Read More