Cyber hacks and data breaches have been rife this year with customer and staff details being nicked from big telcos and health insurance providers in the last few months. But why are we suddenly being barraged by hackers and ransomware seemingly out of nowhere? It’s likely because of Australia’s e-security and data protection laws.
A new report from cybersecurity company SurfShark has ranked 117 countries (around 92 per cent of the global population) on five main factors of digital wellbeing: internet affordability and equality, e-infrastructure, e-security, and e-government. The research determined that Australia’s index spot on electronic security has dropped seven positions in the last year.
The Digital Quality of Life Index (DQL) ranked Australia 36th in 2021 and 43rd in this year’s report, trailing the UK and New Zealand which are 28th and 34th respectively.
Australia’s e-security score is also lower than the average for all of Oceania and Europe, which isn’t great for a developed country in a technologically advanced world.
The DQL figured out each country’s e-security by using the National Cyber Security Index (NCSI) and valuing a country’s data protection laws based on existence and completeness. Data protection quality was compared to the EU’s General Data Protection Directive (GDPR) as the best marker of personal data protection laws. Countries were given a score between zero and five, with zero being “no specific laws” and five being the GDPR itself.
Australia ranked 35th on the wider DQL list which is a 18 place slip since last year’s index.
So essentially we’re not great with our data security laws and there’s lots of room to improve and work our way back up to a space closer to other well-developed economies.
Cyber security expert Aaron Bugal told news.com.au that large companies are becoming complacent when it comes to their cyber security systems which is why we’ve seen seven companies targeted in recent months.
“There is some complacency and in some cases almost negligence where organisations are not being responsible implementing correct and basic cyber controls, and cyber hygiene, and having a very ‘she’ll be right’ attitude towards security,” he said.
Bugal said the people hacking the systems are just as savvy as the systems trying to keep them out and their threats are becoming more intricate and involved.
“The biggest issue I see today is that cybercriminals are as knowledgeable as the defenders. They’ve got access to the tools to the networks, they know how things work, and they’re spending all their time looking to exploit them,” he said.
“These days the threats are much more complex, the criminals have got much more opportunistic ways to get in, and they’re just going to keep leveraging it.”
The Federal Government is pushing to amend the Telecommunications Regulations 2021 to better protects Aussies by allowing telcos like Optus to temporarily share approved ID information with financial services. This is so that shared customers can be closely monitored and further protected by safeguards to detect fraudulent activity and other malicious behaviour on their accounts.