Statement of Policy
In the course of conducting its normal business activities, Ledge collects, records, maintains and uses personal information from members, which members rightly expect to be protected from misuse, interference, loss, and from unauthorised access, modification or disclosure.
Ledge makes every effort to protect personal information from misuse, loss, unauthorised use, access, modification or disclosure (i.e. a data breach).
However, in the event of a data breach (or suspected data breach) the following five steps must be taken:
1) Contain the breach.
2) Conduct a preliminary assessment.
3) Evaluate the risks associated with the breach.
5) Prevent future breaches.
Please note that this policy is general in nature and is only meant to be used as a guide. Breaches or suspected breaches may be assessed on a case-by-case basis by Risk and Compliance Director and additional steps may be taken if deemed necessary.
Responding to a data breach (or suspected data breach):
Step 1 – Contain the breach
Once Ledge has discovered (or been notified) that a breach or suspected breach (“the breach”) has occurred, it should take all reasonable steps necessary to contain the breach.
Step 2 – Conduct a preliminary assessment
During this preliminary stage, Ledge should make an assessment regarding the breach and act accordingly. This may involve the:
- appointment of an internal person and/or team to investigate the breach – this will include the CEO and the Risk and Compliance Director; an
- drafting of a report concerning the breach – this may include a report that makes recommendations concerning the breach, and should include: the information that is the subject of the breach, the cause of the breach, the extent of the breach, and the level of harm that affected individuals may suffer as a result of the breach.
Step 3 – Evaluate the risks associated with the breach
In determining what other steps should be taken, Ledge will address the following issues/questions:
a) The type of information involved – the type of information that has been affected by the breach can have an important bearing on the severity of the breach. For example, a breach involving an individual’s name, medical history, place and date of birth can be quite severe as they cannot be “re-issued”. Whereas, a breach involving an individual’s Medicare numbers, tax file numbers, and bank account numbers, while serious, can be rectified as these can be “re-issued”.
b) The type and number of affected individuals – i.e. are they members, beneficiaries, employees and how many of them will be affected?
c) The context of the information involved in the breach (and who has gained unauthorised access to the relevant information) – this issue looks at the kind of information that is the subject of the breach, and how its use may affect the individuals concerned.
d) Whether there have been any other similar breaches – this may assist in determining who has committed the breach and the size of the breach. For example, a series of small breaches regarding client information committed by an individual or organisation that has not been addressed or remedied, may constitute a much larger breach if it is found that an individual or organisation is compiling client information.
e) The way in which the information may be used – could the information that is the subject of the breach be used for fraudulent purposes, or could it be used with publically available information to create a greater risk of harm to clients?
f) Is there a risk of ongoing breaches or further exposure of the information?
g) Is there any evidence of criminal activity (for e.g. theft)?
h) Is the information that is the subject of the breach adequately encrypted, anonymised or otherwise not easily accessible?
i) Has the information that is the subject of the breach been recovered?
j) What steps have already been taken to mitigate the harm?
k) Is the breach a systematic problem or an isolated incident?
l) The number of affected individuals.
m) The risk of other harms – this may include reputational damage, loss of public trust, financial exposure, or regulatory penalties.
Step 4 – Notification
If Ledge believes on reasonable grounds that there has been unauthorised access or disclosure of the personal (and/or sensitive) information that will result in a real risk of serious harm (economic or financial harm or harm to the individual/s reputation that is not remote) to the individual concerned (“serious data breach”) Ledge should:
1) Prepare a statement – this statement should include the identity and contact details of Ledge, a description of the data breach, the kind/s of information concerned, and any recommendations about the steps that individuals should take in relation to the data breach (e.g. change their passwords);
2) Give a copy of the statement to the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC);
3) Consider whether it is appropriate to notify any other external bodies – depending on the severity or substance of the breach, Ledge may wish to notify: professional or other regulatory agencies (such as ASIC), the ATO (if the breach concerns prohibited access to TFN’s or Medicare numbers), the police (state and/or federal), insurers (depending on contractual obligations), any relevant banks, and any other agencies that have a direct relationship with the lost/stolen information;
4) Contact the OAIC to determine whether Ledge should:
a) Send a copy of the statement to the affected individual; and/or
b) Publish a copy of the statement on the Ledge website and publish a copy of the statement in at least one newspaper in each state;
NOTE: it is important to contact the OAIC PRIOR to notifying the affected individual as, if the breach is only deemed to be minor and the individual has not suffered any harm or loss, notifying them of such a breach may cause them unnecessary anxiety, de-sensitise them to further notifications, or cause them to lose trust in Ledge if they learn of the breach through the media at a later date.
5) If it is found that the affected individual should be notified, Ledge should consider:
a) If a law enforcement agency is involved in investigating the breach – if so, Ledge should:
- consult the investigating agency prior to making the details of the breach public;
- be careful not to destroy any evidence that may be valuable in determining the cause of the breach or allow the investigating agency to take the necessary action; and
- ensure that all records of the suspected breach are maintained, including the steps taken to rectify the breach and the decisions made concerning the breach.
b) How the affected individual should be directly notified – i.e. by phone, letter, e-mail, or in person (if possible); and
c) Who should be notified – generally Ledge should notify the affected individual/s, however in some circumstances they should contact the affected individual’s guardian or representative (instead of, or in addition to, the affected individual) if it is deemed appropriate. In the event of a breach by a third party service provider, contractor or related body (“the third party”) Ledge should notify the affected individual, as Ledge is the organisation that has the direct relationship with the affected individual/s and notification from the third party may confuse the affected individual;
6) Notify the affected individual – when notifying the affected individual, Ledge should provide the affected individual with the following information:
- Ledge’s response to the breach;
- any assistance that Ledge will offer the affected individual;
- the contact details of Ledge and any Ledge employees that the individual may want to contact concerning the breach;
- whether the breach has been reported to the OAIC or an investigation agency;
- how the affected individual can make an internal complaint or a complaint to the OAIC (the OAIC has published an internal complaints guide, which is available on the OAIC website); and
- any other sources of information that may be of use to the affected individual in protecting themselves from identity theft and other privacy related issues. For e.g. links to the OAIC and Attorney-General’s Department website;
Step 5 – Prevent future breaches
To prevent future breaches Ledge should conduct a review of its policies and procedures, which may include the following:
- conduct a post investigation audit of physical and technical security controls;
- a review of policies and procedures that relate to the breach, and a review of any other policies and procedures that may be at risk of a breach;
- regular training of employees with respect to information breaches;
- conduct breach ‘drills’ – to simulate what would happen during a breach;
- compile a list of the external service providers that Ledge will use in the event of a breach – i.e. auditing firms, public relations firms, law firms etc.;
- review internal policies designed to prevent use of unregistered portable storage devices; and
- disabling transfer capabilities of any offending (registered) portable storage devices.
NOTE: once the prevention plan has been carried out it is important that there is an audit of the prevention plan, so as to ensure that the prevention plan has been fully executed.