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Australian organisations experienced highest rate of data breaches: Report

Australian data appears to be the favoured target for cyber attackers, with organisations reporting the highest rate of data breaches across the globe in 2023.

This is one of the key Australian findings from the latest research by Rubrik Zero Labs. The report found data breaches were almost 50 percent more common in Australia than the global average.

Rubrik Zero Lab’s new “The State of Data Security: Measuring Your Data’s Risk” report offers insights on real-world risks against data as the pace and volume of cyber events continues to increase globally, aided by the explosion of data in the cloud and the realities of modern computing environments. Rubrik Zero Labs studies the challenges organisations face to protect their crown jewels — their data — as well as how to reduce data risk and prepare for the evolving risk cycle before, during, and after a cyberattack.

After surveying IT security decision makers at companies with 500 or more employees, the research found 82 percent of local organisations experienced a cyberattack in 2023. Of these, data breaches were the most prevalent style of attack comprising 54 percent of incidents, compared to the global average of 38 per cent. Business Email Compromise attacks were the second most common attack method, witnessed in 45 percent of incidents.

Antoine Le Tard, Vice President, APJ at Rubrik, said the findings showed cyber resilience – rather than merely cyber prevention – was more important than ever.  

“Australia is a mature market and early adopter of cloud and many enterprise security technologies. As such, local organisations have been investing heavily in perimeter security for the past decade, yet Australia holds the unenviable title of leading the world in data breaches,” Le Tard said. “This shows it’s time to think beyond the perimeter and shift towards cyber resilience strategies.”

With many local organisations adopting hybrid environments to modernise their businesses, attacks were witnessed across all aspects of their infrastructure. Cloud environments were the most targeted in Australia, with 75 percent of local respondents reporting malicious activity. SaaS recorded the second most malicious activity, reported by 60 percent of respondents, followed by on-premise infrastructure with 46 percent.

“The cloud is a powerful business enabler but it comes with inherent risk – particularly with vulnerable sensitive data,” Le Tard said. “According to Rubrik telemetry, there are a number of security blind spots when it comes to the cloud. Most data we see in a standard cloud instance is object storage – so it has far lower security coverage than other areas – yet more than a quarter of object storage data is sensitive data, such as protected health information (PHI) and personally identifiable information (PII).”

While data breaches were the most common attack type experienced in Australia, ransomware accounted for more than a third (36 percent) of local cyber incidents. In these cases, 97 percent of enterprises reported paying a ransom to recover data or stop an attack. In 70 percent of cases, a ransom was paid following an encryption event and in 54 percent it was paid due to extortion threats.

“The high percentage of businesses paying a ransom following an encryption event suggests many Australian organisations are placing too much faith in perimeter defences. They simply aren’t prepared to recover their own data following a successful attack,” Le Tard said. “A comprehensive backup strategy is the best defence in these cases. It allows the victim to rapidly recover their own data without having to pay the attackers – but investing here often requires an organisation to accept breaches are inevitable.” 

The Rubrik Zero Labs research unit pairs Rubrik telemetry across its customer base of more than 6,100 organisations with findings from a survey conducted by Wakefield Research of more than 1,600 IT and security leaders — half of which are CIOs and CISOs. Additionally, this study incorporated data from two Rubrik partner organisations and five other research organisations in an effort to provide the most objective findings. Additional key findings from the Australian data include:

  • Throughout 2023, Australian organisations experienced an average of 28.17 attacks – on par with the global average of 28.12. This figure encompasses all attack types including business email compromise, data breach, ransomware, insider event, and inadvertent data exposure.
  • In Australia, ineffective back-up and recovery solutions were the second most common limiting factor noted in the wake of a cyberattack (21 percent), second to only a lack of leadership involvement (22 percent). A lack of security expertise within the organisation was noted by 17 percent of Australian organisations.
  • In the wake of an attack, the most common action Australian organisations took was to increase spending on new technologies or services (77 percent). This was notably higher than the global average of 55 percent.  

To read the full report, visit https://rubrik.com/zero-labs.

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Yajush Gupta

Yajush Gupta

Yajush is a journalist at Dynamic Business. He previously worked with Reuters as a business correspondent and holds a postgrad degree in print journalism.

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