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Australia statistics bureau in damage control after data breach
05/13/2014 Email this story  |  Printable Version

SYDNEY, May 13 (Reuters) - The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) said it was engaging an external reviewer to ensure it is best placed to maintain data security, just days after a staff member was arrested for disclosing market-sensitive embargoed information.

"The review will assess what was leaked and the extent to which the staff member's access to information was consistent with his duties," the ABS said in a statement published on Tuesday.

ABS staff can access sensitive data on a need-to-know basis and are only provided with the minimum amount of information to enable them to perform their job, it said.

"The review will ensure that the ABS is best positioned to maintain the security of the information that it holds."

Last Friday, the Australian Federal Police (AFP) arrested an ABS employee and a National Australia Bank employee for insider trading offences that authorities said netted them A$7 million ($6.5 million) on the foreign exchange derivatives market.

Tens of billions of dollars change hands in the wake of major Australian data releases, from foreign exchange to bonds and interest rate futures. Fortunes can be made or lost in milliseconds, particularly if the numbers show a change outside of market expectations.

The ABS said the arrest of a staff member for leaking data was the first in the history of the bureau spanning over 100 years and it was quick to assure that no other staff were involved in the case.

The ABS also said there was nothing to suggest that the unauthorised disclosure included details about an individual person or business.

"We can reassure the public that they can participate in ABS surveys with confidence and the information collected and stored by the ABS is secure and strictly confidential," it said. (Reporting by Ian Chua; Editing by Kim Coghill)

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