SMEs urged to prepare for mandatory data breach reporting

The government’s recently introduced Notifiable Data Breach scheme will have big consequences on small businesses and accountants, according to a cyber security researcher.

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The passage of the Privacy Amendment (Notifiable Data Breaches) Bill 2016 – to commence on 22 February 2018 – will require the mandatory reporting of breaches in organisations to the Privacy Commissioner as well as affected individuals or face hefty fines.

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Failure to notify could result in civil penalties including fines of $340,000 for individuals and $1.7 million for companies.

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“The new scheme will strengthen the protections afforded to everyone’s personal information, and will improve transparency in the way that the public and private sectors respond to serious data breaches,” Australian Information Commissioner and Australian Privacy Commissioner Timothy Pilgrim said.

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Matthew Warren, deputy director of the Deakin University for Cyber Security Research, said the mandatory notification will push businesses to improve their current cyber security plans or face losing the trust of clients.

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“The biggest issue for organisations being a victim of cyber crime is if your customers find out about it,” Mr Warren said.

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“The lack of trust they would [then] have in your organisation means they could take their business elsewhere.

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“From a security governance perspective, every organisation has a duty of care to protect their customers in a cyber context.”

Mr Warren said SMEs can start to place an emphasis on cyber security by developing situational awareness on what threats and risks exist, before developing a clear cyber governance plan.

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