Human error leading cause of govt data breaches: OAIC

By Dylan Bushell-Embling
Tuesday, 02 February, 2021

Human error leading cause of govt data breaches: OAIC

The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner’s latest Notifiable Data Breaches Report has found that human error is accounting for a growing proportion of data breaches.

The report found that over six months to December there was an increase in both the total number of notifications received — up 18% to 204 — and the proportion of breaches where human error was at fault — up from 34% to 38%.

But malicious or criminal attacks continued to make up the majority of breaches, accounting for 310 notifications or 58% during the period. System faults were meanwhile responsible for 25 notifications (5%).

Health service providers again notified the most data breaches (23%) of any industry sector, followed by finance (15%). But for the first time, the government sector entered the top five, accounting for 6% of all breaches.

Notably, human error was the leading cause of breaches involving the Australian Government.

“The human factor is also a dominant theme in many malicious or criminal attacks, which remain the leading source of breaches notified to my office,” Australian Information Commissioner and Privacy Commissioner Angelene Falk said.

“Organisations need to reduce the risk of a data breach by addressing human error — for example, by prioritising training staff on secure information handling practices.”

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