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NSW government sets up new unit to mitigate identity crime

by reporter5 minute read

cyber security cyber security

The NSW government is establishing a new identity support unit to minimise the risks associated with identity theft and make it easier for customers to access help if their identity is stolen.

The NSW’s Minister for Digital and Customer Service, Victor Dominello, has unveiled that the state government is setting up IDSupport NSW, which will support customers and NSW government agencies to prevent identity misuse and – in the event of a data breach – provide a single-point-of-contact support service for citizens.

The new unit aims to reduce rising instances of identity fraud and better support NSW residents in the event their personal information or government proof of identity credentials are stolen or fraudulently obtained.

It will reportedly work with government agencies and in collaboration with Australian and New Zealand identity and cyber-support service, IDCARE, to identify credentials being used for identity crimes and replace compromised identity documents where appropriate.

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IDSupport NSW will work closely with Cyber Security NSW and other government agencies to perform proactive mitigation activities and deliver education and awareness campaigns about personal cyber-security and identity resilience.

It will also provide the customer with options for additional support and counselling services.

“This is an escalating problem around the world and NSW will lead the way when it comes to the solution,” Mr Dominello said.

“IDSupport NSW will for the first time provide a single point-of-contact for customers who have had their identity compromised, while ensuring we have a coordinated end-to-end privacy incident response service in NSW government.

“The unit will remove the burden from customers who need to replace identification documents, improving their experience at what we know can be a difficult time.

“Identity crime is becoming increasingly sophisticated which is why improving identity resilience has been a key action in the NSW Identity Strategy.

“Customers will be able to contact one phone number and receive the right guidance, information and support, saving time and frustration during what can be a stressful time.”

The new unit will work alongside a new framework that is currently being developed by the Department of Customer Service (as per a recommendation of a recent parliamentary inquiry into cyber security) to support state government agencies to identify and mitigate potential privacy issues that may arise from data breaches.

NSW Privacy Commissioner Samantha Gavel welcomed the “responsiveness” of the NSW government in addressing the recommendations of the parliamentary inquiry into cyber security.

“Cyber security risks have been elevated in recent years through the development of rapidly evolving technology and techniques by malicious actors and cyber breaches represent an increasing threat to citizens’ personal and identity information,” Ms Gavel said.

“It is important to mitigate and prevent identity theft and provide appropriate support to NSW citizens whose identity information has been compromised. The Privacy Commissioner welcomes these initiatives to assist and support citizens.”

IDCARE chief executive Dr David Lacey said he was looking forward to working closely with the NSW government.

“The aim of the partnership with IDSupport NSW is to develop best practice approaches to address identity compromise arising from data breaches. This will complement IDCARE’s tried and tested approach to helping customers within Australia and New Zealand address issues with broader identity misuse,” Dr Lacey said.

Rising focus on cyber security

In 2020, the NSW government committed a record $240 million to bolster its internal cyber capacity, established a regional Cyber Security Hub in Bathurst, led the work for an industry standards taskforce and introduced SME targets for ICT expenditure across government.

This year, an additional $75 million has been allocated to small agencies for cyber-security uplift as part of the Digital Restart Fund.

It comes amid growing instances of cyber crime, particularly in the financial services sector, with several scams involving cyber criminals impersonating brokers and real estate agents to intercept funds.

Moreover, the CEO of ANZ, Shayne Elliott, recently revealed that that the major bank noted a rise of detected and reported scams of over 70 per cent during 2021. 

“Through the pandemic, I have been increasingly troubled by scams targeting our customers,” he said.

“We saw a 73 per cent increase in scams detected or reported by customers in the first eight months of 2021, compared to the same time last year. 

“Over this time our retail customers sent about $77 million to scammers, of which we were able to recover almost $19 million.”

The Australian Banking Association (ABA) also recently released a new scam awareness campaign following data that suggested more than a third of Australians knew someone who had lost more than $150,000.

And, according to the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner’s Notifiable Data Breaches Report, more than half of the data breaches in the financial sector were considered to be malicious or criminal related.

Momentum Media – the parent company of The Adviser – has launched the Cyber Security Uncut podcast, providing market updates, intelligence and insights on the growing importance and role of cyber security.

NSW government sets up new unit to mitigate identity crime
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