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OAIC under fire for long review wait times following Notifiable Data Breaches scheme

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The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) is charged with a handful of functions covering privacy, freedom of information (FOI), and information policy.

Its responsibilities include conducting investigations; reviewing decisions made under the FOI Act; handling complaints; monitoring agency administration; and providing advice to the public, government agencies, and businesses. A year ago this week, it had its workload upped once more and was given the responsibility of handling Australia’s Notifiable Data Breaches (NDB) Scheme.

In the first year of operation, the OAIC received notification of 812 breaches.

Speaking during Senate Estimates in May last year, then-acting Information and Privacy Commissioner Angelene Falk said her office was expecting around 500 breach disclosures to hit her office, telling the committee at the time there was “an increase in a number of matters” the OAIC was closing and that the challenge was to “manage responsibilities with the resources available”.

Now appointed as the Australian Information and Privacy Commissioner, Falk faced Senate Estimates on Tuesday, grilled again about the staffing numbers in her office.

“The Notifiable Data Breaches scheme has been a significant increase in workload,” she said, noting under the voluntary scheme that was previously in place, the OAIC received 114 breach notifications in a 12-month period.

“That has required the office to focus and prioritise on that work and inevitably because of the increased workload across all of our functions, it is leading to some extended periods of delay in actioning some of the work.”

Of specific concern to the senators was that appeals and requests for review are taking nearly a year to complete as result of the increased workload.

In the six months from July 2018, the OAIC received over 10,000 inquiries relating to both privacy and FOI. There were 524 requests to review FOI decisions — up 42 percent over the same period a year prior. 318 reviews were finalised during that same time.

There are currently 784 FOI Information Commissioner (IC) reviews on hand and 18 FOI matters that have been waiting 11 months to be assigned a case officer.

“We resolve over 50 percent of the privacy complaints through an early resolution model and similarly we have seen a success on the FOI side of the work in increasing the numbers,” Falk explained.

“Having said that, those matters, both in privacy and FOI that need to go to a full investigation are experiencing a delay to be allocated to an officer.”

Average time taken to resolve an IC review over the last three years has been 6-7 months.

In addition, from July through December 2018, 1,716 privacy complaints were received by the OAIC — a 22 percent increase over the same period a year prior. Of those, 1,410 have been resolved.

Refusing to tell Estimates overtly she wanted more staff — saying in May the OAIC boasted 75 full-time equivalent staff — Falk said her office was “working proactively” in terms of getting to the causes of the increase in matters. She said she was specifically looking into if there was “good FOI decision-making” in the first place and in terms of privacy, that there is good awareness around government and business of responsibilities.

“At the same time we are looking at our resourcing,” she conceded. “We are putting more focus on early resolution and that is bearing fruit and as well as that, looking at what our resourcing needs might be moving forward.”

RELATED COVERAGE

Australians made over 19K privacy principle enquiries in 2017-18

2,947 privacy complaints were also received by the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner.

Reported breaches not painting complete picture of Australian security landscape

Although 63 data breaches were reported to the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner in less than six weeks, FireEye’s Mandiant has warned the figure is higher, but organisations are unsure if their breach fits the brief.

OAIC received 31 notifications in the first three weeks of data breach scheme

The OAIC has revealed to ZDNet it has received 31 notifications since the Notifiable Data Breaches scheme came into effect last month.

Eight reasons more CEOs will be fired over cybersecurity breaches (TechRepublic)

Security is everyone’s problem, but CEOs should make sure their organisation doesn’t block its success. Gartner offers eight situations for CEOs to avoid if a breach occurs within their organisation.

Notifiable Data Breaches scheme: Getting ready to disclose a data breach in Australia

Australia’s Notifiable Data Breaches scheme will come into force next month. Here is what it means and how it will affect organisations, and individuals, in Australia.

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Phish Fight: Securing Enterprise Communications

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Yes, much of the world may have moved on from email to social media and culturally dubious TikTok dances, yet traditional electronic mail remains a foundation of business communication. And sadly, it remains a prime vector for malware, data leakage, and phishing attacks that can undermine enterprise protections. It doesn’t have to be that way.

In a just released report titled “GigaOm Radar for Phishing Prevention and Detection,” GigaOm Analyst Simon Gibson surveyed more than a dozen enterprise-focused email security solutions. He found a range of approaches to securing communications that often can be fitted together to provide critical, defense-in-depth protection against even determined attackers.

Figure 1. GigaOm Radar for Email Phishing Prevention and Detection

“When evaluating these vendors and their solutions, it is important to consider your own business and workflow,” Gibson writes in the report, stressing the need to deploy solutions that best address your organization’s business workflow and email traffic. “For some it may be preferable to settle on one comprehensive solution, while for others building a best-of-breed architecture from multiple vendors may be preferable.”

In a field of competent solutions, Gibson found that Forcepoint, purchased recently by Raytheon, stood apart thanks to the layered protections provided by its Advanced Classification Engine. Area 1 and Zimperium, meanwhile, are both leaders that exhibit significant momentum, with Area 1 boosted by its recent solution partnership with Virtru, and Zimperium excelling in its deep commitment to mobile message security.

A mobile focus is timely, Gibson says in a video interview for GigaOm. He says companies are “tuning the spigot on” and enabling unprecedented access and reliance on mobile devices, which is creating an urgent need to get ahead of threats.

Gibson’s conclusion in the report? He singles out three things: Defense in depth, awareness of existing patterns and infrastructure, and a healthy respect for the “human factor” that can make security so hard to lock down.

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When Is a DevSecOps Vendor Not a DevSecOps Vendor?

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DevOps’ general aim is to enable a more efficient process for producing software and technology solutions and bringing stakeholders together to speed up delivery. But we know from experience that this inherently creative, outcome-driven approach often forgets about one thing until too late in the process—security. Too often, security is brought into the timeline just before deployment, risking last minute headaches and major delays. The security team is pushed into being the Greek chorus of the process, “ruining everyone’s fun” by demanding changes and slowing things down.

But as we know, in the complex, multi-cloud and containerized environment we find ourselves in, security is becoming more important and challenging than ever. And the costs of security failure are not only measured in slower deployment, but in compliance breaches and reputational damage.

The term “DevSecOps” has been coined to characterize how security needs to be at the heart of the DevOps process. This is in part principle and part tools. As a principle, DevSecOps fits with the concept of “shifting left,” that is, ensuring that security is treated as early as possible in the development process. So far, so simple.

From a tooling perspective, however, things get more complicated, not least because the market has seen a number of platforms marketing themselves as DevSecOps. As we have been writing our Key Criteria report on the subject, we have learned that not all DevSecOps vendors are necessarily DevSecOps vendors. Specifically, we have learned to distinguish capabilities that directly enable the goals of DevSecOps from a process perspective, from those designed to support DevSecOps practices. We could define them as: “Those that do, and those that help.”

This is how to tell the two types of vendor apart and how to use them.

Vendors Enabling DevSecOps: “Tools That Do”

A number of tools work to facilitate the DevSecOps process -– let’s bite the bullet and call them DevSecOps tools. They help teams set out each stage of software development, bringing siloed teams together behind a unified vision that allows fast, high-quality development, with security considerations at its core. DevSecOps tools work across the development process, for example:

  • Create: Help to set and implement policy
  • Develop: Apply guidance to the process and aid its implementation
  • Test: Facilitate and guide security testing procedures
  • Deploy: Provide reports to assure confidence to deploy the application

The key element that sets these tool sets apart is the ability to automate and reduce friction within the development process. They will prompt action, stop a team from moving from one stage to another if the process has not adequately addressed security concerns, and guide the roadmap for the development from start to finish.

Supporting DevSecOps: “Tools That Help”

In this category we place those tools which aid the execution, and monitoring, of good DevSecOps principles. Security scanning and application/infrastructure hardening tools are a key element of these processes: Software composition analysis (SCA) forms a part of the development stage, static/dynamic application security testing (SAST/DAST) is integral to the test stage and runtime app protection (RASP) is a key to the Deploy stage.

Tools like this are a vital part of the security layer of security tooling, especially just before deployment – and they often come with APIs so they can be plugged into the CI/CD process. However, while these capabilities are very important to DevSecOps, they can be seen in more of a supporting role, rather than being DevSecOps tools per se.

DevSecOps-washing is not a good idea for the enterprise

While one might argue that security should never have been shifted right, DevSecOps exists to ensure that security best practices take place across the development lifecycle. A corollary exists to the idea of “tools that help,” namely that organizations implementing these tools are not “doing DevSecOps,” any more than vendors providing these tools are DevSecOps vendors.

The only way to “do” DevSecOps is to fully embrace security at a process management and governance level: This means assessing risk, defining policy, setting review gates, and disallowing progress for insecure deliverables. Organizations that embrace DevSecOps can get help from what we are calling DevSecOps tools, as well as from scanning and hardening tools that help support its goals.

At the end of the day, all security and governance boils down to risk: If you buy a scanning tool so you can check a box that says “DevSecOps,” you are potentially adding to your risk posture, rather than mitigating it. So, get your DevSecOps strategy fixed first, then consider how you can add automation, visibility, and control using “tools that do,” as well as benefit from “tools that help.”

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High Performance Application Security Testing

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This free 1-hour webinar from GigaOm Research. It is hosted by an expert in Application and API testing, and GigaOm analyst, Jake Dolezal. His presentation will focus on the results of high performance testing we completed against two security mechanisms: ModSecurity on NGINX and NGINX App Protect. Additionally, we tested the AWS Web Application Firewall (WAF) as a fully managed security offering.

While performance is important, it is only one criterion for a Web Application Firewall selection. The results of the report are revealing about these platforms. The methodology will be shown with clarity and transparency on how you might replicate these tests to mimic your own workloads and requirements.

Register now to join GigaOm and sponsor NGINX for this free expert webinar.

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