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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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Defeating Distributed Denial of Service Attacks

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It seems like every day the news brings new stories of cyberattacks. Whether ransomware, malware, crippling viruses, or more frequently of late—distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks. According to Infosec magazine, in the first half of 2020, there was a 151% increase in the number of DDoS attacks compared to the same period the previous year. That same report states experts predict as many as 15.4 million DDoS attacks within the next two years.

These attacks can be difficult to detect until it’s too late, and then they can be challenging to defend against. There are solutions available, but there is no one magic bullet. As Alastair Cooke points out in his recent “GigaOm Radar for DDoS Protection” report, there are different categories of DDoS attacks.

And different types of attacks require different types of defenses. You’ll want to adopt each of these three defense strategies against DDoS attacks to a certain degree, as attackers are never going to limit themselves to a single attack vector:

Network Defense: Attacks targeting the OS and network operate at either Layer 3 or Layer 4 of the OSI stack. These attacks don’t flood the servers with application requests but attempt to exhaust TCP/IP resources on the supporting infrastructure. DDoS protection solutions defending against network attacks identify the attack behavior and absorb it into the platform.

Application Defense: Other DDoS attacks target the actual website itself or the web server application by overwhelming the site with random data and wasting resources. DDoS protection against these attacks might handle SSL decryption with hardware-based cryptography and prevent invalid data from reaching web servers.

Defense by Scale: There have been massive DDoS attacks, and they show no signs of stopping. The key to successfully defending against a DDoS attack is to have a scalable platform capable of deflecting an attack led by a million bots with hundreds of gigabits per second of network throughput.

Table 1. Impact of Features on Metrics
[chart id=”1001387″ show=”table”]

DDoS attacks are growing more frequent and more powerful and sophisticated. Amazon reports mitigating a massive DDoS attack a couple of years ago in which peak traffic volume reached 2.3 Tbps. Deploying DDoS protection across the spectrum of attack vectors is no longer a “nice to have,” but a necessity.

In his report, Cooke concludes that “Any DDoS protection product is only part of an overall strategy, not a silver bullet for denial-of-service hazards.” Evaluate your organization and your needs, read more about each solution evaluated in the Radar report, and carefully match the right DDoS solutions to best suit your needs.

Learn More About the Reports: Gigaom Key Criteria for DDoS, and Gigaom Radar for DDoS

The post Defeating Distributed Denial of Service Attacks appeared first on GigaOm.

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Assessing Providers of Low-Power Wide Area Networks

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Blog Title: Assessing Providers of Low-Power Wide Area Network Technology

Companies are taking note of how Low-Power Wide Area Networks (LPWAN) can provide long-distance communications for certain use cases. While its slow data transfer rates and high latency aren’t going to be driving any high intensity video streaming or other bandwidth-hungry situations, it can provide inexpensive, low power, long-distance communication.

According to Chris Grundemann and Logan Andrew Green’s recent report “GigaOm Radar for LPWAN Technology Providers (Unlicensed Spectrum) v1.0,” this growing communications technology is suitable for use cases with the following characteristics:

  • Requirement for long-distance transmission—10 km/6 miles or more wireless connectivity from sensor to gateway
  • Low power consumption, with battery life lasting up to 10 years
  • Terrain and building penetration to circumvent line-of-sight issues
  • Low operational costs (device management or connection subscription cost)
  • Low data transfer rate of roughly 20kbps

These use cases could include large-scale IoT deployments within heavy industry, manufacturing, government, and retail. The LPWAN technology providers evaluated in this Radar report are currently filling a gap in the IoT market. They are certainly poised to benefit from the anticipated rapid adoption of LPWAN solutions.

Depending on the use case you’re looking to fulfill, you can select from four basic deployment models from these LPWAN providers:

  • Physical Appliance: This option would require a network server on-premises to receive sensor data from gateways.
  • Virtual Appliance: Network servers could also be deployed as virtual appliances, running either on-premises or in the cloud.
  • Network Stack as a Service: With this option, the LPWAN provider fully manages your network stack and provides you with the service. You only need devices and gateways to satisfy your requirements.
  • Network as a Service: This option is provided by mobile network operators, with the provider operating the network stack and gateways. You would only need to connect to the LPWAN provider.

Figure 1. LPWAN Connectivity

The LPWAN providers evaluated in this report are well-positioned from both a business and technical perspective, as they can function as a single point of contact for building IoT solutions. Instead of cobbling together other solutions to satisfy connectivity protocols, these providers can set up your organization with a packaged IoT solution, reducing time to market and virtually eliminating any compatibility issues.

The unlicensed spectrum aspect is also significant. The LPWAN technology providers evaluated in this Radar report use at least one protocol in the unlicensed electromagnetic spectrum bands. There’s no need to buy FCC licenses for specific frequency bands, which also lowers costs.

Learn More: Gigaom Enterprise Radar for LPWAN

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The Benefits of a Price Benchmark for Data Storage

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Why Price Benchmark Data Storage?

Customers, understandably, are highly driven by budget when it comes to data storage solutions. The cost of switching, upkeep and upgrades are high risk factors for businesses, and therefore, decision makers need to look for longevity in their chosen solution. Many factors influence how data needs to be handled within storage, including data that is frequently accessed, or storing rarely-accessed legacy data. 

Storage performance may also be shaped by geographic location, from remote work or global enterprises that need to access and share data instantly, or by the necessity of automation. Each element presents a new price-point that needs to be considered, by customers and by vendors.

A benchmark gives a comparison of system performance based on a key performance indicator, such as latency, capacity, or throughput. Competitor systems are analyzed in like-for-like situations that optimize the solution, allowing a clear representation of the performance. Price benchmarks for data storage are ideal for marketing, showing customers exactly how much value for money a solution has against competitor vendors.

Benchmark tests reinforce marketing collateral and tenders with verifiable evidence of performance capabilities and how the transactional costs relate to them. Customers are more likely to invest in long-term solutions with demonstrable evidence that can be corroborated. Fully disclosed testing environments, processes, and results, give customers the proof they need and help vendors stand out from the crowd.

The Difficulty in Choosing

Storage solutions vary greatly, from cloud options to those that utilize on-premises software. Data warehouses have different focuses which impact the overall performance, and they can vary in their pricing and licensing models. Customers find it difficult to compare vendors when the basic data storage configurations differ and price plans vary. With so many storage structures available, it’s hard to explain to customers how output relates to price, appeal to their budget, and maintain integrity, all at the same time.

Switching storage solutions is also a costly, high-risk decision that requires careful consideration. Vendors need to create compelling and honest arguments that provide reassurance of ROI and high quality performance.

Vendors should begin by pitching their costs at the right level; they need to be profitable but also appealing to the customer. Benchmarking can give an indication of how competitor cost models are calculated, allowing vendors to make judgements on their own price plans to keep ahead of the competition. 

Outshining the Competition

Benchmark testing gives an authentic overview of storage transaction-based price-performance, carrying out the test in environments that imitate real-life. Customers can gain a higher understanding of how the product works in terms of transactions per second, and how competitors process storage data in comparison.

The industry-standard for benchmarking is the TPC Benchmark E (TPC-E), a recognized standard for storage vendors. Tests need to be performed in credible environments; by giving full transparency on their construction, vendors and customers can understand how the results are derived. This can also prove systems have been configured to offer the best performance of each platform.

A step-by-step account allows tests to be recreated by external parties given the information provided. This transparency in reporting provides more trustworthy and reliable outcomes that offer a higher level of insight to vendors. Readers can also examine the testing and results themselves, to draw independent conclusions.

Next Steps

Price is the driving factor for business decisions and the selection for data storage is no different. Businesses often look towards low-cost solutions that offer high capacity, and current trends have pushed customers towards cloud solutions which are often cheaper and flexible. The marketplace is full in regard to options: new start-ups are continually emerging, and long serving vendors are needing to reinvent and upgrade their systems to keep pace. 

Vendors need evidence of price-performance, so customers can be reassured that their choice will offer longevity and functionality at an affordable price point. Industry-standard benchmarking identifies how performance is impacted by price and which vendors are best in the market – the confirmation customers need to invest.

 

The post The Benefits of a Price Benchmark for Data Storage appeared first on GigaOm.

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