Data published by the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner reveals that Australia is subject to nearly three significant data breaches every day, with leading cybersecurity and blockchain experts referencing China as the cause of ongoing cyber attacks.
The January – June 2020 Notifiable Data Breaches Report, published by the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC), places the total number of reported data breaches across Australia for the last financial year at over 1,000.
The OAIC’s Notifiable Data Breaches scheme from which the data presented in the report tracks the occurrence of data breaches in which personal information is accessed or distributed without authorization. While many of the breaches in the report are attributable to human error, hundreds of the breaches occurring between 2019 and 2020 were executed by malicious or criminal actors.
Australian Health & Finance Sector Targeted, Bank Details Leaked
Data breaches reported in the report were executed by a variety of means, such as social engineering, storage device theft, insider threats, phishing, and malware. The majority of attacks executed in the last year were associated with malicious actors gaining access to user data through phishing attacks, closely followed by ransomware attacks.
The Australian health sector was the hardest hit by cyber attacks, accounting for over 10 percent of all data breaches, followed by the finance sector. The number of users affected by the breaches exceeds 10 million, with the contact information of 84 percent of affected individuals released along with home addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses as well as passport numbers and license numbers.
Concerningly, data breaches reported to the OAIC in the same period contained tax file numbers, bank account details, credit card numbers, and health data.
Key Industry Experts Identify Blockchain as Solution to Cyber Threat
A panel discussion hosted on July 30 by recently appointed Blockchain Australia CEO Steve Vallas saw blockchain specialists and experts from various sectors come together to discuss potential cyber security solutions to address the ongoing cyber threat faced by Australia.
The panel, consisting of liberal Senator Andrew Bragg, CyberCX CEO John Paitaridis, National Blockchain Lead Chloe White from the Department of Industry, and several other speakers identified blockchain technology as a key driver in protecting Australia from future cyber attacks.
During the panel, CyberCX CEO John Paitaridis noted that attacks directed toward Australia are increasing in frequency, and identified China as the primary actor executing cyberattacks against the country:
“In June this year, the Australian Prime Minister announced an ‘unnamed state actor’, you can read into that — China — as being targeting businesses and government agencies across Australia as part of a large, dedicated, persistent scale attack.”
Blockchain technology, stated Paitaridis, is able to prevent the manipulation of data after publishing, preventing data tampering and addressing the vulnerabilities that are currently exploited by malicious actors in cyber attacks.