SecurityBrief New Zealand logo
New Zealand's leading source of cybersecurity and cyber-attack news
Story image

OPC finds leading cause of privacy breaches is human error

By Catherine Knowles
Wed 1 Dec 2021

Human error is the leading cause of serious privacy breaches, according to a new report released today by the Office of the Privacy Commissioner (OPC).

Privacy Commissioner John Edwards says, “We are seeing clear patterns emerging since mandatory reporting of serious privacy breaches came into effect with the Privacy Act 2020 on 1 December last year.”

Since reporting of serious privacy breaches became a legal requirement, OPC has seen a nearly 300% increase in privacy breach reporting compared to the same 11-month period the year before.

Human error has been the leading cause of serious privacy breaches during this period (61%), with email error accounting for over a quarter of those breaches.

Other types of privacy breaches in the human error reporting were accidental disclosure of sensitive personal information, data entry errors, confidentiality breaches, redaction errors, postal and courier errors, OPC states.

Edwards says, “Organisations can easily prevent email and other human errors with the right training and procedures."

OPC's new report 'Privacy Breach Reporting' analyses the types of privacy breaches being reported, and is driving the Office's new compliance and enforcement activities.

Edwards says, "My Office has already issued a warning to an agency for having multiple privacy breaches caused by email error, and we are prepared to take further enforcement action if agencies repeatedly experience privacy breaches caused by email error."

Edwards emphasises that timely privacy breach notification is a mandatory obligation.

He says, "In June this year, I made my expectations around the timeliness of privacy breach notification clear. A notifiable breach should be reported to my Office no later than 72 hours after an agency has become aware of it.

"Currently, less than half of all serious privacy breach notifications are being made within the expected timeframe."

Edwards continues, "Under the Privacy Act 2020, organisations or businesses which experience a privacy breach that has caused, or has the potential to cause serious harm, must report it to the Privacy Commissioner."

Breaches should be reported using OPCs online NotifyUs reporting tool. NotifyUs also contains an anonymous self-assessment module to help agencies to decide whether their breach meets the threshold for notifying the Commissioner.

Failure to report a serious privacy breach is a criminal offence which may result in a fine of up to $10,000.

OPC also noted that human error privacy breaches cause serious harm.

For example, an agency served court information sheets that were produced in both redacted and unredacted form, with the unredacted version intended only for the court.

However, both versions were accidentally included in the information pack sent out to the relevant parties and the ex-partner was therefore able to see the home address of the victim.

The ex-partner has a history of violence and had threatened to kill the victim, also claiming they had access to a gun.

An email containing detailed health information about a group of patients was intended to be sent internally to the staff of a medical provider.

A typing error in the TO field resulted in a member of the public receiving these patients medical records.

Having their sensitive personal information exposed in this way caused considerable emotional harm to a number of these patients.

An agency staff member intended to send an email to three internal recipients containing sensitive personal information about external people. Regretfully, they selected someone external from their contact list.

Although an IT warning alerted the staff member that they had selected an external recipient, they ignored the warning and sent the email. The recipient contacted the agency and agreed to delete the message.

However, they subsequently used Facebook Messenger to contact the mother of two girls who were mentioned in the email.

Related stories
Top stories
Story image
Amazon Web Services / AWS
Zscaler, AWS accelerate onramp to the cloud with zero trust
Zscaler has announced an extension to its relationship with Amazon Web Services, as well as innovations built on Zscaler's Zero Trust architecture.
Story image
Cybersecurity
Aqua Security, CIS create software supply chain security guide
Aqua Securityand the Center for Internet Security have together released the industry’s first formal guidelines for software supply chain security.
Story image
Cybersecurity
Threat actors ramp up their social engineering attacks
As people get better at identifying potential threats in their inbox, threat actors must evolve their methods. Their new M.O? Social engineering.
Story image
Cybersecurity
Significant security concerns resulting from open source software ubiquity
"The risk is real, and the industry must work closely together in order to move away from poor open source or software supply chain security practices."
Story image
Ransomware
Rapid7 report examines use of double extortion ransomware attacks
New insight into how attackers think when carrying out cyber attacks, along with further analysis of the disclosure layer of double extortion ransomware attacks, has come to light.
Story image
Data resilience
Digital resilience in 2022 - A10 Networks releases new study
Of the 250 corporate organisations surveyed, as many as 95% showed high levels of concern for all aspects of enterprise digital resilience.
Story image
Ransomware
More than 90% of cyber attacks made possible by human error
The data are clear, with cyberattacks on the rise in recent years and the cybersecurity situation increasingly complex. 
Story image
Zscaler
Securonix partners with Snowflake, Zscaler in joint venture
Securonix is embarking on a joint technology integration with Snowflake and Zscaler to speed up threat detection and response at cloud scale.
Story image
APAC
Digital resilience big concern for 95% of APAC businesses
A10 Networks finds of the 250 APAC businesses surveyed, 95% of them are very concerned about all aspects of enterprise digital resilience.
Story image
Cybersecurity
Palo Alto Networks named Google Cloud technology partner of the year for security
Palo Alto Networks was recognised for helping organisations rapidly transform security operations for future success.
Story image
SaaS
Commvault's SaaS division experiences notable growth
Commvault has revealed the global momentum that its SaaS division Metallic has experienced since its launch two years ago.
Story image
Secure access service edge / SASE
Cloudflare adds new capabilities to zero trust SASE platform
New features for Cloudflare One include email security protection, data loss prevention tools, cloud access security broker, and private network discovery.
Story image
Yubico
New research shows global drive for passwordless authentication
A new study has shown there has been a significant shift towards wanting a passwordless future, but adoption is still in its infancy.
Story image
API
Industry-first comprehensive risk-based API security enhances protection
Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) have become a crucial part of operating web and mobile application businesses and are causing significant economic growth in the digital sector.
Story image
Cloud
QuSecure partners with DataBridge Sites to showcase platform
QuSecure has partnered with DataBridge Sites to showcase its Quantum-as-a-Service (QaaS) orchestration platform, QuProtect.
Story image
DDoS
Q1 DDoS and application attack activity reveals surprise result
The cybersecurity threat landscape in the first quarter of 2022 represented a mixed bag of old enemies and new foes. New actors dominated the DDoS threat landscape while application security faced tried-and-true attack vectors.
Story image
PagerDuty
Ready for anything with the PagerDuty Operations Cloud
In a world of digital everything, teams face increasing complexity. Ever-growing dependencies across systems and processes put customer and employee experience, not to mention revenue, at risk.
Story image
Cybersecurity
Schneider Electric and Claroty launch building security solution
Schneider Electric has announced the launch of Cybersecurity Solutions for Buildings, a solution designed to help buildings customers secure BMS.
Story image
Data Protection
Thales solution supports DevSecOps teams with data protection
Thales' CipherTrust Platform Community Edition enables DevSecOps teams to deploy data protection controls into multi-cloud applications faster.
Story image
SaaS
Varonis strengthens security capabilities for AWS and S3
Varonis has strengthened and expanded its cloud and security capabilities, with a critical aim of improving safety and boosting data visibility in Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3).
Story image
DDoS
Flashpoint unveils security offering for school boards
Flashpoint has released its K-12 risk management and security offering to provide school boards and education security practitioners with tools to recognise, prevent and manage cyber and physical threats.
Story image
Apple
LastPass announces new capability for iPhones and iPads
LastPass has announced its new save and fill experience, allowing customers to fill in, create and save their credentials directly within the site's form field.
Story image
Cloud
SonicWall recognises partners and distributors at FY2022 partner awards
SonicWall has recognised its distributors and partners for their efforts in producing the company’s most successful year to date.
Story image
Collaboration
IT and security team collaboration crucial to data security
Many IT and security decision makers are not collaborating as effectively as possible to address growing cyber threats.
Story image
Collaboration
Why the success of client collaboration projects depends on addressing these five warning signs
New tools, applications, and software have enabled project collaboration to continue remotely, both between employees within an organisation and with its clients.
Story image
Cybersecurity
Why is NZ lagging behind the world in cybersecurity?
A recent report by TUANZ has revealed that we are ranked 56th in the world when it comes to cybersecurity - a look into why we're so behind and what needs to be done.
Story image
Cybersecurity
Trend Micro unveils dedicated security for electric vehicles
The cybersecurity company has announced VicOne - dedicated security for the electric vehicles and connected cars of today and tomorrow.
Story image
Identity and Access Management
Ping Identity launches corporate venture capital fund
Ping Identity has launched a corporate venture capital fund to foster innovative offerings for the identity security market.
Story image
Tech job moves
Tech job moves - Boomi, Limepay, Thales, VMware & Zoom
We round up all job appointments from June 6-16, 2022, in one place to keep you updated with the latest from across the tech industries.
Story image
Digital Transformation
Cybersecurity priorities for digital leaders navigating digital transformation
In recent years, Asia-Pacific has especially been a hotspot for cyberattacks, and as we continue into 2022, it’s evident that the problem is becoming more significant.
Story image
Dark web
Cybercrime in Aotearoa: How does New Zealand law define it?
‘Cybercrime’ is a term we hear all the time, but what exactly is it, and how does New Zealand define it in legal terms?
Story image
Cybersecurity
ConnectWise reveals cybersecurity updates and partnerships
ConnectWise has unveiled new updates to its services and highlighted the importance of cyber insurance at its IT Nation Secure conference.
Story image
INTERPOL
Hundreds arrested, millions seized in global INTERPOL investigation
A two-month-long investigation by INTERPOL this year involved 76 countries and clamped down on organised crime groups behind telecommunications and social engineering scams.
Story image
Cybersecurity
New survey uncovers critical OT security challenges
While industrial control environments continue to be a target for cyber criminals, there are widespread gaps in industrial security.
Story image
Robotic Process Automation / RPA
rapidMATION helps Coates achieve success with landmark RPA solution
A strong Robotic Process Automation solution (RPA) can help solve many complex issues that businesses face daily. 
Story image
Wavelink
How Wavelink fosters creativity and careers in the channel
Wavelink is a 100% channel business, with all sales flowing through its authorised reseller partners. It has been a B2B technology distributor for almost 24 years and offers a broad range of software across cybersecurity, mobility, networking, and healthcare.
Story image
Compliance
OCEG survey shows demand for connected GRC systems
The survey also revealed that many organisations lack visibility and connected processes to manage the increased velocity and volume of risks. 
Story image
Manufacturing
Sternum joins NXP, collaborates on IoT security and observability
Sternum has announced it has joined the software partner community of NXP Semiconductors, a manufacturer of and large marketplace for embedded controllers.
Story image
eInvoicing
Airwallex, Xero extend partnership with easier invoice payments
Airwallex has extended its long-term partnership with Xero by releasing a new payment link integration for Xero invoices that will make receiving them easier and faster for Australian businesses.
Story image
Cloud
Exabeam expands investment in Google Cloud in fight against cyber threats
The move opens up limitless data ingestion, speed, and scale opportunities for worldwide security teams in their ongoing fight against cybersecurity attacks.
Story image
APAC
Aqua Security launches cloud native security SaaS in APAC
Aqua Security has announced the general availability of cloud native security SaaS in Singapore, serving the broader APAC region.
Story image
Cybersecurity
Snowflake launches new cybersecurity workload for the data cloud
Snowflake has announced the launch of a new cybersecurity workload that enables cybersecurity teams to better protect their enterprises with the data cloud. 
Story image
Cybersecurity
Ingram Micro launches vendor-backed security program
Ingram Micro has unveiled a new program intended to give resellers the effective offerings their customers need to stay safe in the evolving threat landscape.
Story image
Cybersecurity
Greater API usage raises concerns for protection - report
Radware has released its 2022 State of API Security report, which shows a rise in APIs, with 92% of the organisations surveyed significantly or somewhat increasing their usage.