Majority of Australian Data Breaches Caused by Human Error

By Rich Campagna, Chief Marketing Officer, Bitglass

It wasn’t long ago that the first breach under the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner’s (OAIC) Privacy Amendment Bill was made public. Now, OAIC is back with their first Quarterly Statistics Report of Notifiable Data Breaches. While the report doesn’t offer much in the way of detail, it does highlight a couple of interesting trends.

The statistic that jumps out most is that of the 63 reported breaches in this first (partial) quarter, the majority (51%) were the result of “human error.” According to OAIC, “human error may include inadvertent disclosures, such as by sending a document containing personal information to the incorrect recipient.” Sounds like too few Australian organizations are controlling things like external sharing, even though sharing (and many other potentially risky activities) can be controlled quite easily with a Cloud Access Security Broker (CASB).

human error leading cause of breaches

The report also breaks down number of breaches by industry. Health service provides had the misfortune of leading the charge in this initial quarter, representing nearly a quarter of breaches. Healthcare organizations have a particularly difficult task with data protection. On one hand, they have a very mobile workforce that requires immediate access to data, from anywhere and from any device. On the other hand, medical records are some of the most valuable sources of personal data, including not only medical history, but personal information, financial information, and more.

healthcare most breaches

Fortunately, this first quarter didn’t include any large, “mega-breaches,” as more than half involved the personal information of fewer than 10 individuals, and 73% involving fewer than 100 individuals.

most breaches small

It will be interesting to see whether schemes like this, and the upcoming GDPR, have an impact on overall data protection outcomes.

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