Businesses urged to act on data safety as one in five hit by data breach, survey reveals

Australian businesses are at danger of online privacy and security breaches, as new research reveals many organisations have not received appropriate training.

Research by online security company McAfee of 500 Australian organisations found 38% of respondents had never received training in the management and storage of sensitive data.

The shocking finding comes just one day after the local head of group buying company LivingSocial said the government should impose stricter regulations for handling customer data in the event of a breach.

The study found one in five Australian businesses have been affected by a data breach and 14% of the respondents were unsure whether they had been targeted or not.

Even more alarmingly, when a business had suffered a security breach, the study found 18% told no one outside the business and 67% of the time neither a member of senior management nor a privacy officer was informed.

Government organisations were less likely to know whether or not they had suffered a breach than a private business, with 31% of government respondents stating they had been unable to determine if they had suffered a breach.

McAfee global chief privacy officer Michelle Dennedy told SmartCompany all Australians need to be better educated about their online security.

“It’s amazing how many people aren’t aware of the importance of online security, it’s a huge issue,” she says.

Dennedy says it’s becoming an increasingly important issue for Australian SMBs because more and more are utilising cloud-based technology. The study indicated 21% of all organisations surveyed used cloud-based services such as Dropbox and YouSendIt.

“The level of security depends on the service. They’re not terrible negative things, but you have to be careful about which provider you’re using and read the terms. Some are quite safe and quite ready, but a lot will say to you there is no guarantee of the security of your data,” she says.

In the past 10 years, Dennedy says technology has progressed and services can now deploy more security, but SMBs can take precautions to ensure they’re protected.

“If I was an SMB I would make sure I understood the perimeters and look to things like encryption technology, then you’ve protected your asset.”

Dennedy says to imagine your data as dollars when thinking about security.

“Spread out your data between providers if you’re worried about the security of one,” she says.

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