Home Security Are you prepared for mandatory data breach reporting, asks Mimecast

The arrival of mandatory breach reporting in Australia is a ticking clock. Cloud-based email management provider Mimecast is concerned many Australian businesses are not ready.

“I don’t remember anything as big, being talked about as little,” says Garrett O'Hara, principal consultant for Mimecast.

“Christmas is very close and many businesses wind down mid December to Australia Day. This legislation starts in February and organisations may get caught out,” he says.

“It’s a ticking clock but there isn’t much attention. For many people the reputation damage is the big thing that will cause them to close the doors,” he says.

There are prominent examples of data breaches, such as last year’s Australian Red Cross Blood Bank Service breach where the details of many donors were potentially available to malicious persons.

However, O’Hara says, data breaches can occur in even the most trivial ways. “I could start typing an email and enter the name ‘Chris’ and an address pops up and autocompletes and I send it, then 20 minutes later realise I didn’t send to Chris in Mimecast but to a friend, and therefore the wrong person. This simple thing becomes a whole lot more serious now, and potentially has a big impact.”

What’s needed, O’Hara says, is a cyber-resilient mindset. “It’s not just about bad attackers but also about leaking accidentally. It may not be anything malicious but just being silly humans.”

O’Hara sees two important ways businesses can protect themselves from breaches:

  1. Use technology to bolster data protection. “It becomes so important to not deliberately or accidentally leak information,” he says.
  2. Construct an incident management and incidence response plan. “Some organisations don’t have them but this is a critical part of protection,” he says. “If something does happen and you have to report it, it is important to have a plan. Does it fall under serious harm? What happened? Who is responsible for doing what? Who will disclose to the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner, to the media, and end users? You need a plan, and also to test and define what people should do.”

The preparedness and planning should always have been in business, O’Hara says, so mandatory data breach reporting planning “is going to put people in a better position".

“It’s hard, but it will give people best practice, security by design, and privacy by design. You will see it baked in, and not just an afterthought.”

“Information security teams will have a much louder voice because the impact to the business – not just funds, but reputation damage - will become a bigger thing.

“Ultimately as much as we talk about the business impact, it’s about end users and their data and how it is used by organisations to make money, so there is a responsibility to ensure data is stored safely and protected,” he says.


Once an attacker gets past the perimeter, it is important to be secured at the next level. “We believe you go with the best in those verticals or endpoints, and they are different things. Sometimes there is a temptation to go with the same vendor but if you mix across the Web, email, and endpoint security you see new companies coming out with really compelling offerings – a whole new set of technology and expertise,” he says.


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David M Williams

David has been computing since 1984 where he instantly gravitated to the family Commodore 64. He completed a Bachelor of Computer Science degree from 1990 to 1992, commencing full-time employment as a systems analyst at the end of that year. David subsequently worked as a UNIX Systems Manager, Asia-Pacific technical specialist for an international software company, Business Analyst, IT Manager, and other roles. David has been the Chief Information Officer for national public companies since 2007, delivering IT knowledge and business acumen, seeking to transform the industries within which he works. David is also involved in the user group community, the Australian Computer Society technical advisory boards, and education.


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