Are Australian businesses protecting your data?

Privacy Awareness Week has sparked concern for the safety of digital data within large companies, with research investigating the threat.


Privacy used to be relatively easy for people manage, but this has been flipped on its head with digital data, allowing the effortless spread of information across the world.

This is both a personal and professional concern, with an individual’s details just as important, if not more, than a company’s best kept secrets. However, there is a financial value to corporate privacy that cannot be underestimated, and with privacy week currently taking place, there has never been a better time to investigate how companies are dealing with it.

Deloitte ranks privacy

The ability to keep data safe has been ranked by industry analyst Deloitte, with a new report focusing on performance across multiple sectors around Australia. Deloitte’s study was prompted by public concerns that large companies may be misusing data.

“As individuals become more aware of how much personal data is captured through technology and connectivity, we are becoming increasingly sensitive as to how our information is being used and disclosed,” said Lead Partner for Deloitte Cyber Risk Services, Tommy Viljoen.

The firm then surveyed 1000 consumers to assess how the country’s top 104 brands were performing with regards to managing privacy. These companies were spread across 11 different industries, ensuring a comprehensive index was created.

Overall, government agencies were deemed to be the best at managing user data, ranking first ahead of banking and finance and social media.

One of the more interesting findings from the research was that it is possible for consumers to trust companies more after a privacy breach, provided of course that the firm in question is open and honest about it. Deloitte found that consumers value transparency, with 34 per cent of people indicating they trust a company more in these situations, compared to 27 per cent who trust them less.

Government intervention

The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) also conducted a study into the privacy policies of various firms across selected industries in Australia. These companies were then assessed against the terms specified by the Australian Privacy Principle 1 to see how they performed.

Rather worryingly, just over half (55 per cent) were found not satisfying one or more of the basic requirements outlined in the agreement.

‘Under Australian privacy laws, privacy policies need to include certain information so that people can be informed about how their personal information will be handled if they choose to deal with a particular organisation,’ said Privacy Commissioner Timothy Pilgrim.

This is likely to improve as awareness spreads, with Gartner predicting that more than half of all firms will outsource their information security needs by 2018. This is likely to promote jobs within the industry as the need to enlist third party service technicians grows.