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New Zealand increases cybersecurity budget

As reported by OpenGov Asia, for some organisations, the shift to digital came at a cost. According to a report, hundreds of New Zealand businesses with online capabilities are now losing money to cyber-criminals. In the third quarter of last year, 281 Kiwis’ businesses reported cybersecurity breaches and many others are likely to have suffered the same fate, without reporting it. The average direct financial loss for small to medium business is still small, only a few thousand dollars, so, it often goes unreported.

Now, New Zealand businesses have increased their cybersecurity spending an additional 10-20% on last year’s originally budgeted IT spending plans to mitigate cybercrimes, according to a report from the International Data Corporation (IDC).

Despite organisations cutting spending in many areas during 2020 due to the impact of COVID-19, security remains a consistent area of increased investment in the country. These findings come according to IDC’s recently released New Zealand security report, which examines the pandemic’s impact on the security needs and investments of the country’s businesses.

Market analysts say that robust cybersecurity investments are vital to business recovery from the effects of COVID-19 because security is what fully enables the ‘next to normal’ in the future of work. According to them, the shift to new models of working drives a crucial need to invest in security measures to enable these remote and hybrid working environments. IDC research also found that 98% of organisations rated workplace security as an important capability in enabling business/operational continuity through the pandemic. Also, many of these businesses intend to invest further in their cybersecurity over the next 1-2 years, with remote access needs and accelerating secure innovation the main drivers of this growth.

The report also demonstrates the need for greater investment in security skills across the country. To position themselves for business recovery and success, organisations placed a major priority on security hiring. These businesses selected cybersecurity skills as the most important IT skill to rebuild in the first wave of economic recovery from the pandemic. COVID-19 and the sudden shift to working remotely have exposed the need for greater investment in remote access, data security, and endpoint management tools and solutions; investment in skills and people is key to ensure organisations can implement these for optimal security outcomes.

Looking to 2021 and beyond, top security priorities in New Zealand revolve around data and information security in an increasingly complex environment. Organisations have been forced to rethink how to keep sensitive customer and company data secure – data that needs to be accessed anytime, anywhere, including from less secure home networks. Securing new devices and residential networks is also a major security challenge for these organisations.

Market Analysts explained that many organisations lack a long-term security investment road map that is recalibrated after the upheaval of 2020. Resolving poorly configured solutions and rushed deployments will be a near-term focus point as businesses look to re-set strategy for the coming year. The recent snap lockdowns in various communities once again reinforce that this ‘new normal’ and new environments to secure are here to stay. Investment in the right security skills and strategy will be the cornerstone for business recovery and resilience.

Moreover, as reported by OpenGov Asia, to further curtail the issues on cybersecurity, New Zealand Tech Alliance (NZTech) whose purpose is to connect, promote and advance tech ecosystems and help the New Zealand economy grow to create a prosperous digital nation, feels that the government must be more proactive in educating the population on cybersecurity. The body believes that citizens must be educated about cyber risks through government funding to some extent. It is time, they feel, that the government allocate further funds for educating people on avoiding becoming victims of cybercrime, much in the same way as there is funding for road safety in the country.

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