Australia: Are you ready for a cyber breach?

In today's digital age, it's not just governments and military bodies that are susceptible to being hacked. On 1 March 2016, the White House announced that it was using cyber attacks to disrupt Islamic State communications and overload its networks.

Individuals can also be susceptible to cyber attacks. In March, digital protection company ESET discovered malware on Android phones that could steal an individual's banking details. It appears that the malware took over control of a phone when a customer tried to open a banking app. It would then re-direct the customer to a fake login screen that the customer could not exit until they entered their log-in details. Once these details were provided, those behind the malware were free to log into that customer's account and transfer money out of it.

Private companies are being hacked more frequently than ever. Such attacks generally have one of three purposes in that they either:

  • get information that hackers can reuse, i.e. the theft of credit card information or industrial information
  • affect the business's performance, i.e. where hackers seize control of operating systems, or
  • seize control of systems, i.e. where hackers infiltrate systems and use them to send out spam or scam emails.

In recent months, cyber attacks against eBay, Target, Google, The New York Times, Twitter, and the Dow Jones and US Stock Exchange have been reported in the media. The hacks on these companies have received media attention because of their notoriety and public standing.

It would be a mistake to think that small to medium-sized businesses are not being hacked or subjected to cyber attacks. In fact, hacking is happening at such an alarming rate, that it is almost inevitable that these businesses will be attacked. This then raises the question, are you ready for a breach? Business owners and managers need to identify and manage prebreach issues to best protect themselves if an attack does happen.

Strengthening the shield—pre-cyber attack preparation

Before a cyber attack occurs, it is important that a company has action plans from three perspectives—legal, operational and technical.

The legal front

From a legal perspective, this involves pre-breach actions and planning for postbreach events. You should ensure that you are properly insured for any loss that may occur, or liability that may arise, from an attack. This should include a review of your insurance policy's wording to ensure it provides adequate cover.

Post-breach planning should cover notification. This could include contacting your insurer and activating a cyber insurance policy, and also deciding whether to notify customers of a cyber attack. Be aware that failing to notify customers of a cyber attack could have a considerable impact on your business's reputation and goodwill.

Notification might also relate to whether ASIC, the ASX or the Privacy Commission (amongst other government organisations) must be notified of an attack. Notification laws are currently being developed and an exposure draft of new legislation that could make breach reporting mandatory, the Privacy Amendment (Notification of Serious Data Breaches) Bill 2015, has been released.

The operational front

From an operational perspective, you should develop a cyber attack policy as part of your overall disaster recovery plan. This policy, amongst other factors, should outline who is responsible for dealing with an attack, how key IT personnel or IT providers will be engaged, how the business will function if one or more of its servers are offline, from where the business will operate if its premises are unavailable and how the board of directors and corporate officers are to be kept up-todate to fulfil their corporate duties.

Additionally, you should also be aware of, or take advice about:

  • cyber security compliance—particularly about ASIC and privacy protocols
  • mitigation of your risk through contractual provisions that ensure IT professionals are robustly monitoring your systems
  • any multi-jurisdictional issues that arise out of information being stored and used internationally
  • obligations regarding the retention of data
  • compliance training—training your staff so that they are aware of what a potential attack might look like, and
  • working with legal and IT specialists to conduct a cyber fitness test so your business is ready against an attack.

The technical front

Making sure that your systems are kept up-todate has a significant effect on vulnerabilities. The Australian Signals Directorate estimates that 85% of targeted cyber intrusions can be prevented from just four mitigation strategies: application whitelisting, patch applications, patch operating system vulnerabilities and restricting administrative privileges. There is an additional mitigation strategy of having management and all your staff understand these strategies.

Additionally, technical preparation includes working with IT professionals to conduct a cyber check-up so that IT systems are capable of withstanding or still functioning if an attack happens. IT professionals can also conduct penetration testing to see how systems respond in the event of an attack and to further develop protocols to limit the impact of a cyber attack.

It is also important to engage IT professionals so that, when an attack occurs, there is a first-strike team ready to immediately respond to the attack to prevent as much damage as possible and to ensure any systems that are taken offline are back up as soon as possible.

The reality

It is easy to dismiss cyber security as either an unimportant issue related to mere computer viruses or as something that happens only as part of major government operations or hacks on large multinational corporations. In reality, cyber attacks occur frequently on all types of businesses and especially on small to mediumsized businesses.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Some comments from our readers…
“The articles are extremely timely and highly applicable”
“I often find critical information not available elsewhere”
“As in-house counsel, Mondaq’s service is of great value”

Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.