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New Zealand: Security for National Cyber Resilience

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Cyber skills are increasingly vital in today’s digital era, where the internet plays a central role in daily life. As reliance on digital technologies grows for communication, education, work, and entertainment, understanding and navigating the digital world safely and responsibly have become paramount.

Image credits: rnz.co.nz

Recognising this importance, a not-for-profit dedicated to ensuring the safety of tamariki (children) online, Tātai Aho Rau Core Education, was honoured at this year’s Ngā Tohu Reo Māori (Māori Language Awards) for its innovative Pūkenga ā-Ipurangi Aotearoa cyber skills programme. This programme, developed in collaboration with an Australia-based cyber security education firm, equips people, especially tamariki, with the skills to stay safe online and make informed decisions about their digital interactions.

Anahera McGregor, the content specialist, highlighted the programme’s importance in helping tamariki navigate the online world safely. Adapting the programme for New Zealand required careful consideration to align it with te ao Māori and te reo Māori, including creating a glossary of new words for cybersecurity terms to make the content accessible and relevant to Māori-speaking audiences. McGregor emphasised the ongoing need for investment in te reo Māori to ensure its presence across all sectors in Aotearoa.

In addition to the cyber skills programme, New Zealand has taken various measures related to cyber programmes, especially for its military. Based on the OpenGov Asia’s report, the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) personnel participated in a multinational exercise led by the United States to advance and fortify the military’s cyber capabilities. This collaborative effort is driven by the necessity to shield the nation and its assets against the relentless and ever-evolving array of cyber threats in the contemporary digital landscape.

The exercise underscored New Zealand’s commitment to staying at the forefront of cybersecurity and served as a testament to international solid partnerships. By engaging in this exercise, NZDF personnel exchanged insights, strategies, and best practices with counterparts worldwide, enhancing cyber readiness and fostering cooperation and solidarity in confronting shared challenges posed by the modern cyber domain.

Further, New Zealand has demonstrated an approach to addressing cyber threats, as seen in its efforts to detect and mitigate malicious activities targeting government institutions since 2021. The Government Communications Security Bureau’s (GCSB) National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) detected cyberattacks against the Parliamentary Counsel Office (PCO) and the Parliamentary Service, highlighting a breach in government systems. Despite the breach, New Zealand’s response was resilient, with the NCSC providing extensive support to affected organisations.

The collaboration between the NCSC and the affected organisations led to the development of a comprehensive remediation plan, improving cyber resilience and laying the foundation for long-term cybersecurity enhancements. Organisations can strengthen their cybersecurity posture by implementing enhanced network monitoring and improved incident response capabilities.

This incident underscores the importance of preparedness and collaboration in defending against cyber threats, and New Zealand’s approach serves as a model for other countries facing similar challenges.

Cyber skills are increasingly crucial in today’s digital era, with the internet playing a central role in daily life. Tātai Aho Rau Core Education’s innovative Pūkenga ā-Ipurangi Aotearoa cyber skills programme, recognised at the Ngā Tohu Reo Māori, equips people, especially tamariki, with the skills needed to navigate the digital world safely.

New Zealand’s approach to cybersecurity is further demonstrated through its military’s participation in multinational exercises and its efforts to detect and mitigate cyber threats targeting government institutions. The collaboration between the Government Communications Security Bureau’s National Cyber Security Centre and affected organisations highlights the importance of preparedness and collaboration in defending against cyber threats, setting a model for other countries facing similar challenges.

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