In a statement, the OAIC said 57% of these incidents were due to malicious or criminal attack and 37% were due to human error.
Australian Information Commissioner and Privacy Commissioner Angelene Falk said: “Everyone who handles personal information in their work needs to understand how data breaches can occur so we can work together to prevent them.
“Organisations and agencies need the right cyber security in place, but they also need to make sure work policies and processes support staff to protect personal information every day.
“Importantly, we also need to be on the alert for suspicious emails or texts, with 20% of all data breaches in the quarter attributed to phishing."
Key statistics from the OAIC report:
- 245 data breaches were notified to affected individuals and the OAIC, compared to 242 the previous quarter;
- 57% were attributed to malicious or criminal attacks, compared to 59% the previous quarter;
- 37% were attributed to human error, compared to 36% the previous quarter;
- 6% were attributed to system faults, compared to 5% the previous quarter; and
- 63% involved the personal information of 100 or fewer individuals, compared to 61% the previous quarter.
The top five industry sectors to report breaches were:
- Private health service providers: 45
- Finance: 35
- Legal, accounting and management services: 34
- Private education providers: 16
- Personal services: 13
Commenting on the report, David Shepherd, vice-president Asia Pacific and Japan, Bitglass, said: "Again, human error and the insider threat account for a significant percentage of the reported security breaches. Considering how prevalent the use of cloud is in Australia, it’s surprising there are no specific mentions of cloud data breaches in the report.
"One would have expected to see reference to files stored in the cloud with sharing turned on or exposed S3 buckets, or Blob storage that had been incorrectly configured. These would be down to human error too, wouldn’t they? Maybe data exposure isn’t thought of the same way as a data breach (and therefore reported), or perhaps there continues to be a visibility gap when it comes to data stored in the cloud.”
Phil Kernick, co-founder and chief technology officer at CQR, said: "The latest quarterly Notifiable Data Breach quarterly report has reported around 3.8 reports of breaches daily. This really should concern people as these are just the 'notifiable' ones that can result in serious harm.
"We can only imagine how many are not notifiable because of the severity, how many are not notifiable because the organisation is not required to comply with the Privacy Act, and how many and how many aren’t even detected. Businesses need to do better to protect our information and profit from our patronage. They need to take cyber security seriously.”
Mark Sinclair, ANZ regional director, WatchGuard Technologies, said: "The report suggests that the biggest segment of reported breaches comes from the 101-1000 company size sector, highlighting the fact that Australian mid-market organisations are in the sights of hackers, probably due to the fact that there are rarely dedicated IT security staff in this space.
"The report also indicates that contact information makes up 85% of reported breaches. While contact information may seem benign, it can allow for much more effective phishing attacks that may follow in the wake of a breach.
"We also see that phishing attacks make up half of the reported cyber incidents which can ultimately be reduced by user education, having a DNS/IP reputation-based scanner at the gateway and employing multi-factor authentication.
"It's interesting to see that the health service sector retains its place at number one for notified data breaches and also has the highest breach rate by human error. Security education of users within the health sector is a dire need and could help reduce the number of breaches if practised regularly.”