Cyber Security Minister Clare O’Neil has described the country as being “behind the eight ball” on data theft, in the wake of the Medibank breach.
It’s estimated up to four million Australians could be at risk of having their data stolen following the hacking of the health insurance company.
The alleged hackers claim they have stolen 200Gb of data which includes medical history, including where medical services were received and codes relating to their diagnosis and procedures.
Medicare numbers, addresses, phone numbers and some claims data were also included in the breach.
Ms O’Neil said the hacking of Medibank, coupled with the Optus data breach last month, was a large concern.
“We’ve really got to just step back and have a good conversation here about what is going on and why it is that we are so behind the eight ball with cyber issues generally,” Ms O’Neil told the Seven Network on Friday.
“We’ve got to muscle up here and understand that this is our future and our job is to make sure that the country is better prepared when things like this happen.”
Ms O’Neil said she would take Medibank at their word that they had taken all necessary steps after the company became aware of the breach.
She said it was still not clear exactly what information had been taken and which customers had been affected.
However, she indicated the possible breach of medical details was alarming.
“At the end of the day, you can replace a credit card. This is health information, it is private and personal information of people that has no place being put into the public realm,” she said.
“It will be a dog act if these cyber thugs make the decision to make any of the information public.”
Opposition government services spokesman Paul Fletcher said the government had been slow to act on the cyber breaches.
“Affected customers are still in the dark and rightly fearful of the integrity of their accounts,” he said in a statement.
“This confusion is compounded by the changing allocation of ministerial responsibility for cyber security.”
Opposition Leader Peter Dutton said the coalition was happy to support legislation to tighten up personal data being stored by companies.
“It needs to be dealt with quickly,” he told the Nine Network on Friday.
“The companies have an onus to disclose and support.”
The breach coincides with new research from McGrathNicol showing that 69 per cent of businesses have experienced a ransomware attack in the past five years.
The research also showed the number of affected businesses is on the rise, with the figure being 31 per cent in 2021.
Finance Minister Katy Gallagher said the government was acting quickly on cyber security issues.
“The priority right now this is dealing with this Medibank situation and making sure we are looking at what we can do to protect people who might have had their information stolen,” she told the Nine Network.
“Absolutely, we need to respond to the bigger picture in light of the fact that these attacks are here, they are happening more often and there are serious breaches often.”