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New Zealand Industry Leaders Call for Greater Cyber Security Literacy

Cyber security issues are closer to home than New Zealanders may realise. In the first quarter of this year, the government agency Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT NZ) received 568 reports about scams and fraud. All that has been associated with a direct financial loss of NZ$ 5.9 million, an increase of 269% from the last quarter.

NZTech, the government-backed ICT industry body, however, has a different take on the matter. Its chief executive Graeme Muller set as an example RealMe, the government digital identity system used to log in to services like Inland Revenue and My Covid Record. He disclosed that these government online services temporarily stopped working last week creating concerns by some that a cyberattack from overseas was underway.

While the Department of Internal Affairs, the agency running RealMe, confirmed the issues were not related to a cyberattack,  concerns continue to escalate over the ever-growing cyber issues that New Zealand businesses are facing. According to CERT NZ, the number of reported issues continues to grow month on month. In 2021, there were 8,331 reported cyber attacks or online scams reported, up 6.7%  from 2020.

While the threat of cyberattacks could be a possibility, the reality is most cyber security issues faced by New Zealanders stem from a lack of understanding of how to operate safely online. Talk of cyberattacks is a distraction and our focus needs to be closer to home and how to be safe online.

 – Graeme Muller, CEO, NZTech

Moreover, he pointed out that there’s a growing need for New Zealanders to educate themselves to handle cyber threats. As risks continue to change and develop, New Zealanders need to do a better job of educating people and businesses on how to spot them and avoid them.

Muller mentioned that according to CERT NZ, there was a 1000% 0increase in reported issues with malware. Yet in every single instance, this required a person to click on a strange link in order for the malware to access the system. What’s more, 138 businesses reported that they had been victims of phishing or credential harvesting attacks, where their staff inadvertently provide access to information that hackers can later use to attack the business.

Therefore, it is critical that business managers understand these risks, what the latest trends in malware and phishing attacks are, and how to develop simple systems to ensure their staff are cyber security literate.

The implication of not investing in training and educating one’s staff is the loss of real money. CERT NZ reported that in the last quarter of 2021 more than NZ$ 6 million was lost by New Zealanders to cyber attackers.

Muller offers Aoteroa businesses useful advice. To improve cyber security all businesses should have processes in place to help staff manage and update passwords, automatically deploy software updates, back up their systems daily and use two-factor authentication when logging in.

Without a doubt, digital technology is evolving quickly. It’s paramount, therefore, that people adapt to changes as they happen or face the consequences. On the other end of the spectrum, new technology is bound to ease the way of life for the island nation’s farmers. Two university students and future entrepreneurs made a super-lightweight smart tag that would allow farmers to monitor the health of their cows even from afar as reported on OpenGov Asia.

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