Call for mandatory data breach notification grows: Survey

Identity theft, financial data loss cited as major concerns by Australians

More Australian internet users want the government to order businesses to notify users of online data breaches, as a new survey conducted by the University of Canberra and eBay Australia found that 85 per cent of 700 Australian participants want data breach notifications to become mandatory.

In addition, 86 per cent of respondents cited identity theft as their greatest privacy concern, while 83 per cent mentioned financial data loss as their biggest concern.

The survey also found that the financial sector was the most trusted when it came to privacy (42 per cent).

Social media was the least trusted industry on privacy with only 1 per cent of respondents saying they trusted websites such as Facebook. Sixty-one per cent of Australians surveyed nominated the social media industry as having the worst privacy practices.

University of Canberra Centre for Internet Safety co-director, Nigel Phair, said in a statement that proper breach management, including notification when warranted, would assist government and private sector organisations to retain the trust of individuals whose information was compromised and help them protect themselves.

The survey results follow the launch by Information Commissioner, John McMillian, of the revised voluntary guidelines for data breach notification on Monday. The guidelines are designed to help businesses respond to data breaches as the Federal Government still considers an Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) recommendation from 2008 to make notifications mandatory.

Privacy Commissioner, Timothy Pilgrim, said that the high level of support for mandatory data breach notifications is not surprising given significant data breaches over the past year such as the Sony PlayStation Network compromise.

“Incidents are on the rise as weaknesses become apparent in business systems at the same time as hackers become more sophisticated,” he said in a statement.

“I encourage businesses to look at our guide which not only outlines how to respond to a breach, but also how to avoid a breach in the first place by focusing on the security of their systems,” Pilgrim said.

Got a security tip-off? Contact Hamish Barwick at hamish_barwick at idg.com.au

Follow Hamish Barwick on Twitter: @HamishBarwick

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