Security Market Segment LS
Friday, 22 February 2019 11:15

Mixed reaction to one year of Australian data breach law

Michelle Dennedy: "It’s no longer about cyber threats getting in, but about the risk of data and critical infrastructure threats once inside." Michelle Dennedy: "It’s no longer about cyber threats getting in, but about the risk of data and critical infrastructure threats once inside." Supplied

Tech professionals have offered mixed reactions about the Australian data breach law which took effect a year ago today, pointing out that in general while it has no big downsides, the legislation has no great upsides either.

Michelle Dennedy, vice-president and chief privacy officer at global networking firm Cisco, said the law was "pushing businesses to innovate to do a better job of protecting data, prompting the need for organisations to take a proactive cyber defence posture with all their tech strategies, and have access to timely accurate threat intelligence data and processes that allow for that data to be incorporated into security monitoring".

She added: "As we’ve seen in Australia since the introduction of the Notifiable Data Breaches Scheme, organisations continue to struggle with the increased presence of new cyber threats. Cyber security is no longer solely an IT issue. Organisations must manage threats as both a technical and financial risk, it’s a broader issue."

Claudia Pirko, regional vice-president ANZ at cloud-based accounting software firm BlackLine, said: "The Notifiable Data Breaches scheme has reinforced the opportunity for finance teams to drive the requirement for security to the same level of discipline they bring to financial planning and forecasting.

"They now need to be able to construct models that accurately evaluate risk which, in turn, will allow effective mitigation steps to be undertaken. One advantage of the new legislation is that those in the office of finance are turning to automation as a means of streamlining processes, improving efficiency and lowering the chance of striking problems."

"The NDB legislation has done a great job to shine the spotlight on data breaches in Australia over the past 12 months'" said Mark Sinclair, ANZ country manager of network security vendor WatchGuard Technologies.

"Most organisations we speak to are aware of the legislation and are better educated about the cyber threats and the human errors that typically lead to data breach.

"However, the actual number of reported breaches for the year seems low, suggesting that many businesses may not fully understand whether they qualify for the NDB scheme or their reporting requirements. It could also be because some businesses may have suffered a breach but have not yet detected it. Further education of Australian businesses on this is required for the NDB scheme to reach its full potential."

Steve Singer, ANZ country manager of software integration vendor Talend, said more than 800 breaches have been reported in the last year with the majority relating to personal data information.

"It appears that businesses must do more to regain the trust of their consumers' data and be aware that they risk very significant fines and further reputational damage in the event of data breaches, both of which could prove potentially fatal to businesses," he said.

"A change in internal company culture towards greater awareness of data protection is necessary. Organisations should not take consumer confidence for granted. Companies must establish a contract of trust with their customers in which data confidentiality and transparency will play a major role."

"The NDB was definitely a step in the right direction as all transparency laws tend to have a positive effect on privacy and security," said Kevin Bocek, vice-president, Security Strategy and Threat Intelligence at certificate and key management specialist Venafi.

"After one year of this legislation, it’s worth taking stock to look at how we can protect business and consumers rather than placing restrictions in the use of encryption and machine identities."

Brendan Maree, vice-president Asia Pacific of cloud communications and customer engagement solutions firm 8x8, said historically, security "had been seen as an afterthought with the shortcomings of an enterprise’s protection measures only evident once its systems have been exposed to the external world and their vulnerabilities exploited by hackers or cyber criminals".

He said the Notifiable Data Breaches scheme had led to a profound change in management of contact centres where privacy of consumer data was paramount.

"Incorporating robust security measures into new technologies and solutions from the get-go is now firmly on management agendas with developers focusing on planning and designing applications to be secure from day one, rather than regarding security as something to be bolted on at the close, once the bulk of the development work is done," Maree added.

Laura Doonin, director at e-commerce provider Moustache Republic, said: "What with the Notifiable Data Breaches Scheme and GDPR, businesses need to continue to sharpen up their business practices and transparency will become the new norm. The Australian data breach laws are a lot less stringent than GDPR and perhaps that is a good first step.

"However, in the general community, there is a lack of understanding as to whether the legislation has made a difference in the way in which retailers manage consumer data.

"In addition, what with the move towards artificial intelligence, retailers need to protect themselves and stricter laws, albeit difficult to navigate at first, will ultimately make them stronger as AI technologies further evolve."

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Sam Varghese

Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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