Skip to main content

Set up controls for sensitive information

Type of countermeasure

This is a prevention countermeasure. Prevention countermeasures are the most common and cost effective way to stop fraud. They prevent or limit the size of the fraud risk by reducing the likelihood and consequences of fraud.

Summary

Limit access to sensitive information and records. The Protective Security Policy Framework sets out the government protective security policies that support this countermeasure.

Why this countermeasure matters

Not controlling access to sensitive information and records can lead to individuals:

  • accessing, manipulating or releasing sensitive information without authority
  • using sensitive information to improperly influence decisions
  • using sensitive information to coerce others to act in an involuntary manner
  • stealing physical records.

How to put this countermeasure in place

Some ways to implement this countermeasure include:

  • restricting and monitoring access to the records of high profile individuals
  • restricting and monitoring access to sensitive information
  • storing protected information in secure environments.

How to measure this countermeasure's effectiveness

Measure the effectiveness of this countermeasure using the following methods:

  • Confirm controls comply with the Protective Security Policy Framework. This includes security requirements for:
    • sensitive and classified information
    • access to information
    • safeguarding information from cyber threats
    • robust ICT systems
    • physical security for entity resources
    • entity facilities.
  • Confirm the existence of additional controls for more sensitive information.
  • Review procedures or guidance to confirm it clearly specifies what constitutes sensitive information.
  • Obtain and review requirements for who can access sensitive information.
  • Confirm the existence of a request and approvals process for accessing sensitive information.
  • Confirm request and approvals processes are consistently applied.
  • Review procedures for requesting access to sensitive information, confirm the processes are robust and actively test them if required.
  • Review the need for Security Clearances for accessing sensitive information and confirm staff have the minimum level of clearance.
  • Undertake testing or a process walk-through to confirm that someone cannot get around access processes.
  • Undertake checks to confirm compliance with clear desk policies.
  • Confirm access to sensitive information is regularly reviewed and reconciled.

Related countermeasures

This type of countermeasure is supported by:

Develop clear instructions and guidance for activities and processes, such as instructions for collecting the right information to verify eligibility or entitlements, procedures to help staff apply consistent and correct processes and guidance to help staff make correct and ethical decisions.

Use declarations or acknowledgments to both communicate and confirm that a person understands their obligations and the consequences for non-compliance. The declaration could be written or verbal, and should encourage compliance and deter fraud.

Rotate staff and contractors in and out of roles to avoid familiarity. Staff and contractors can become too familiar with processes, customers or vendors, which can lead to insider threats.

Limit and control functionality within systems with user permissions. Assign permissions to users based on specific business needs such as making high-risk functions limited to specialised users.

Set up system prompts and alerts to warn users when information is inconsistent or irregular, which either requires acceptance or denies further actions.

Limit and monitor privileged system accesses (those that allow staff, contractors and providers to perform special functions or override system and application controls). The Protective Security Policy Framework outlines the government protective security requirements to safeguard information from cyber threats, including to restrict administrative privileges.

Conduct system testing to identify vulnerabilities prior to release. Untested systems can allow vulnerabilities to be released into production environments.

Prepare summary reports on activities for clients, managers or responsible staff.

Report on incidents or breaches to help identify if further investigation is required. Clients, public officials or contractors can take advantage of a lack of reporting and transparency to commit fraud, act corruptly and avoid exposure.

Conduct internal or external audits or reviews to evaluate the process, purpose and outcome of activities. Clients, public officials or contractors can take advantage of weaknesses in government programs and systems to commit fraud, act corruptly, and avoid exposure.

Related Fraudster Personas

Was this page helpful?