A superannuation company that allowed the private details of its customers to be leaked online has been found to have breached the Privacy Act.
In September last year, a flaw was discovered in First State Super’s computer systems, which allowed an attacker to download private customer information.
The person who reported the flaw says he discovered it by accident and was ethically and morally obliged to inform the super fund.
The fund responded by referring the matter to police.
As Will Ockenden reports, it’s revealed a blurry line in the law over so-called “ethical” computer hacking.
The Australian Privacy Commissioner Timothy Pilgrim has found First State Super Trustee Corporation (FSS) in breach of the Privacy Act after a hacking incident in October 2011.
An investigation was opened after it was reported that an unauthorised person had accessed the secure member section of the FSS website and downloaded personal information belonging to 568 FSS members.
“Incidents such as this are very concerning particularly when sensitive personal details, such as financial information are accessed by an unauthorised person,” Mr Pilgrim said.
The Privacy Commissioner’s investigation found that FSS did not disclose information to a third party. However, the Commissioner did find that FSS had not taken reasonable steps to protect the personal information held in the member section of its website from unauthorised access.
“While FSS had conducted a number of tests of sample web pages prior to the incident, the area of the website containing the vulnerability was not tested. In my view, FSS would have had the capacity to remedy this flaw in its system. For this reason I found that FSS had failed to take reasonable steps to protect the personal information it held, and had breached the Privacy Act,” Mr Pilgrim said.
“I acknowledge the speed with which FSS acted when they became aware of the incident, immediately containing the incident, notifying affected members and commencing an internal investigation.”
“This incident highlights the need for all businesses to take privacy of their customers seriously, and to test their systems to reduce the likelihood of a privacy breach,” Mr Pilgrim said.
A full investigation report can be accessed here:http://www.oaic.gov.au/publications/reports.html#omi_reports
John Hilvert adds: