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New Zealand Government Releases Latest Best Practices in Cyber Security

In its latest update, the New Zealand Information Security Manual (NZISM), Version 3.5, released essential information with regards to the latest best practices in cyber security. In essence, it is a guide used by all New Zealand Government agencies to foster national security. Top of that list is state-of-the-art cyber security. The last update (v3.4) was released years ago in September 2020.

The NZIM is a product of the country’s foremost cybersecurity experts, the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB). The government body is considered to be New Zealand’s most powerful intelligence agency – akin to the CIA of the United States or the MI6 of the United Kingdom. It is charged with promoting New Zealand’s national security by collecting and analysing information with an intelligent nature.

The NZISM has existed in one form or another since the 1990s. Then, it was known as the New Zealand Security of Information Technology (NZSIT) policies. In 2004, that document became the NZSIT 400 series, superseded by the NZISM in 2010.

The year 2014 was pivotal as the guidelines included not only the government but also vendor and practitioner communities. As a result, a significant rewrite took place to develop what would become the third version of the manual intended to give further clarity and up-to-date guidance around new technologies. Since Version 3.0 in 2014, the manual has been regularly updated to keep pace with rapid changes within the tech space.

The NZISM‘s controls take into account international information security standards and control catalogues from a range of sources – including international partner agencies, and recognised technical institutions such as NIST, or ISO Standards. Our policy team adapts these to be consistent with New Zealand’s legislation, government policy and the wider New Zealand technology context.

Spokesperson, National Cyber Security Centre

GCSB explains that the manual is designed to provide a clear layout with regards to “the clarification of governance requirements, role and authority of the chief and of senior executives, and further clarity on the principal assurance process – the certification and accreditation framework.”

Such a top-down approach has been explained in detail by the agency. It adds that this is important because the responsibility of managing risk and security falls to chief executives and heads of government departments and agencies.

The latest version of the NZISM brings with it changes that will impact New Zealand cyber security going forward. Some of the areas with major changes include:

  • Chapter 2 (Information Security Services within Government)
  • Chapter 3 (Roles and Responsibilities)
  • Section 5.9 (Vulnerability Disclosure Policy)
  • Section 13.5 (Media and IT Equipment Destruction)
  • Chapter 17 (Cryptography)

Indeed, cybersecurity is key to a comprehensive digital transformation plan. As data accumulates and technology upgrades, cyber vulnerabilities in the infrastructure could be taken advantage of by unscrupulous entities. Being able to foresee possible weak points in the system is paramount. Such a proactive approach is what NZISM is all about.

New Zealand is keenly aware of this. It knows that not only does it need to promote its technology but also it has to protect it. Its latest foray into advertising to showcase Aoteroa’s tech capabilities to the world shows its dedication to ICT and to digital adoption.

Technology has indeed moved the island nation forward. To push such an envelope even further, the country is creating various research centres. It’s all-encompassing. As reported on OpenGov Asia, agritech in the country is getting a leg up as a new research centre into the technology has just opened.

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