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What is a Data Breach?

Updated: May 5


A data breach occurs when information is accessed, stolen, or exposed without authorisation. Such incidents pose significant risks to individuals and organisations, potentially leading to financial, reputational, and legal consequences.

A breached door
Breached


Types of Data Breaches

  • Cyber-attacks: These are deliberate and malicious attempts by individuals or groups to breach the information system of another individual or organisation. Common methods include phishing, malware, and ransomware attacks, making them some of the most frequent forms of data breaches.

  • Accidental Exposure: Sometimes, data breaches occur due to human error or system failures. This might happen through misconfigured databases or incorrect security settings, leading to the unintentional exposure of sensitive data.

  • Physical Theft or Loss: This type involves the loss of physical devices such as laptops, hard drives, or paper records that contain personal or sensitive information, leading to a breach.


Understanding the Legal Framework

Globally, many countries have regulations aimed at protecting personal data. In Australia, the Privacy Act 1988 requires organisations to take reasonable steps to protect personal information from misuse, interference, and loss, as well as unauthorised access, modification, or disclosure. The act includes the Notifiable Data Breaches (NDB) scheme, which mandates reporting certain types of breaches to both the affected individuals and the regulator.


Common Targets and Consequences of Data Breaches

Data breaches can target various types of sensitive information, including personally identifiable information (PII), protected health information (PHI), financial data, and intellectual property. The consequences of data breaches can be severe, affecting millions and costing organisations substantial amounts in fines, legal fees, and recovery costs.


Preventive Measures

To mitigate the risk of data breaches, organisations should adopt comprehensive security measures, including:

  • Implementing strong access controls and encryption.

  • Regularly updating and patching systems.

  • Educating employees on security best practices and the risks of social engineering attacks.

  • Developing and maintaining an incident response plan


How We Can Assist

We offer tools and services to help organisations comply with data breach notification laws effectively. From early detection of potential breaches to managing the reporting process, we support organisations in enhancing their data security postures and complying with legal obligations, minimising the impact of breaches on the business and affected individuals.

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