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Aussie Business Leaders Must Protect Data & Their Reputations

Industry leaders in Australia are tasked with protecting data from internal and external threats. Risks to small and mid-sized outfits are more significant than ever.  

There’s an iconic image circulating that nefarious hackers are hiding in the cyber shadows covering their faces with a hoodie and sunglasses. That picture might serve the television and movie industry well, but cybercriminals come in from all walks of life.

To highlight how a digital bandit could be hiding in plain sight, consider the recent arrest of a New South Wales man charged with an unauthorised breach of an Australian company while he was working as a valued contractor. According to IT Newsthe 58-year-old “remotely accessed the server and downloaded documents” while working as a third-party contractor. He allegedly “deleted more than 350 downloaded files after a court order was issued to access his computer.”

New South Wales Police’s cybercrime squad indicates they had been investigating unauthorised access into a database for years and the man now faces up to five years in prison. While the number of companies being hacked for valuable data has surged, the notion that digital bandits fit a particular mould or are unknown to business leaders is clearly a myth. The threats to Aussie businesses of all sizes and sectors have never been higher.

Data Protection In Australia

Business Reputations Stung Data Breaches

The recently confirmed hack of logistics giant Toll Holdings left customers in the dark about deliveries. Those who logged on to track packages were greeted by a cautionary message. However, an actual breach was later confirmed.

“As a precautionary measure, in response to a cybersecurity incident on Friday, Toll deliberately shut down a number of systems across multiple sites and business units. Toll IT teams are working closely with global cybersecurity experts to resolve the issue,” a spokesperson reportedly confirmed to Business Insider Australia.

According to reports, the impact of the breach was felt across Australia, India, and the Philippines, among other regions. Toll Holdings is widely known for its strong position delivering items for eBay, and Kogan, among other e-commerce outfits. What should have Australian business on heightened alert is that this high-level cyberattack comes on the heels of Travelex data being compromised to the tune of a $6-million ransomware demand for 5GB in sensitive data. Along with lost revenue, and the embarrassment of being held hostage, these companies will undoubtedly suffer a hit to their reputation as viable partners in the respective industries.

“As our society and economy become increasingly interconnected, the consequences of cyber breaches become ever more critical. That means more emphasis must be placed on the integrity and availability of systems,” Rachael Falk writes in the Australian Financial Review. “In the context of online systems, the test of integrity is whether you can trust the data in a system to be accurate and also, crucially, uncorrupted. Increasingly, cyber adversaries not only wish to gain access to systems but also to corrupt it in ways that undermine trust or commercial value.”

Data Breaches on the Rise in Australia

The most recent report issued by the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) will not comfort Australia’s business community. Since the Notifiable Data Breach mandate was established, hacks continue to rise. An OAIC report that crunches the cyberattack statistics from July through December 2019 highlights the following trends.

  • Reportable Data Breaches Rose by 19 Percent
  • Malicious Attacks Increased to 64 Percent, an Uptick of 2 Percent
  • Human Error Declined to 32 Percent, Down by 2 Percent
  • Health Sector Suffered the Most Targeted Breaches at 22 Percent of the Total
  • Finance Sector Reported the Second Highest Data Breach Rate at 14 Percent Overall
  • Contact Information and Identity Data was the Most Frequent Form of Cyber Theft

What industry leaders sometimes fail to realise until it is too late is that hackers are not nefarious people cloaked in mystery targeting only huge corporations such as the infamous Equifax breach. They generally target the low-hanging fruit. Small and mid-sized outfits often have subpar cybersecurity deterrents in place and are more frequently targeted by those who have access or knowledge about your business network.

The best solution to preventing a cyber incursion is working with a third-party cybersecurity expert who brings a new set of eyes to the equation. The alternative could be lost revenue and unrecoverable damage to your industry reputation.