Two hundred and sixty-two data breaches involving the leaking of personal information were reported to the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner during the final quarter of 2018, with 54 involving private health service providers.
In a statement released on Thursday, the OAIC said the leading cause for the breaches was malicious or criminal attack (168) followed by human error (85) and system error (9).
Among the 168 breaches caused by malicious or criminal attack, most involved the use of compromised credentials which were obtained by the use of phishing emails or brute-force attacks.
- Two hundred and sixty-two data breaches were notified to affected individuals and the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner, compared to 245 the previous quarter;
- Sixty-four percent were attributed to malicious or criminal attacks, compared to 57% the previous quarter;
- Thirty-three percent were attributed to human error, compared to 37% the previous quarter;
- Three percent were attributed to system faults, compared to 6% the previous quarter; and
- Sixty percent involved the personal information of 100 or fewer individuals, compared to 63% the previous quarter.
The top five sectors to report breaches were:
- Private health service providers: 54
- Finance: 40
- Legal, accounting and management services: 23
- Private education providers: 21
- Mining and manufacturing: 12
Australian Information Commissioner and Privacy Commissioner Angelene Falk said: "Preventing data breaches and improving cyber security must be a primary concern for any organisation entrusted with people’s personal information.
“Employees need to be made aware of the common tricks used by cyber criminals to steal usernames and passwords.
“The OAIC works with the Australian Cyber Security Centre to provide prevention strategies for organisations, including regularly resetting and not reusing passwords.
“If a data breach occurs, early notification can help anyone who is affected take action to prevent harm.
“By changing passwords, checking your credit report, and looking out for scams using your personal information, you can help minimise the harm that can result from a data breach.”