Organisations that have had customer information stolen would be forced to reveal the breach, if the government gets its way.

Dan Tehan MP, the minister assisting the Prime Minister for Cyber Security, said we must all be on notice, as it was not a case of if but when government, business or individuals would be hit.

“At the moment, there is no obligation to report breaches in Australia, however when it comes to personal information data breaches, the Government is moving to address this through the Notifiable Data Breaches Bill, which is currently before the Parliament.”

Tehan emphasised that business and government need to work together, sharing information about breaches, and staying as informed as possible.

“One of the things that Government wants to do is lead when it comes to transparency in this area, and we think that if we can do that, that hopefully will lead to business doing the same,” he said.

“What we have to do, where it is safe and secure to do so, is encourage business and encourage individuals to be prepared to come out and say, okay, this is what has happened to me.”

Asked how likely businesses such as banks were to share information about data breaches, Tehan said banks would have to look at the bigger picture.

“The more you try and hide, I think, the more especially if its comes out what's occurred and what the impact it's had on individual and customers – I think the more reputational damage it will do to you. And I think that is a key question that business has to think about and consider: what is the reputational damage that I might get if I don't be proactive and get out and be transparent about what is happening?”

In his first speech at the National Press Club, Tehan said it is absolutely critical for the government to ensure the public has confidence in its systems.

“A serious cyberattack has the potential to cause the same damage as a terrorist attack,” he warned. “We are naïve to think Australia is immune to any such threats.”

In April, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull laid out the government’s 4-year plan for addressing cybersecurity, appointing Alastair MacGibbon as Australia's first Cyber Security Special Adviser to the Prime Minister. Two weeks ago, Toby Feakin was appointed the country’s first Ambassador for Cyber Affairs.

To date, the government has committed $230 million to cybersecurity, as well as a further $400 million as part of the Defence White Paper. Tehan said its first Cyber Security Growth Centre would open early 2017.


ACS will be launching its layman’s guide to cybersecurity -- Cybersecurity: Threats, Challenges, Opportunities -- at an event in Sydney next Wednesday.