March 5, 2021

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Rapid digitalisation in New Zealand’s may pose higher cyber vulnerability

As organisations accelerate their spending on cloud migration and digitalisation to manage the COVID-19 pandemic, many may be overestimating their ability to protect their systems and their processes, according to a study done by a New Zealand cybersecurity firm. The tech firm conducted its research on more than 2,500 IT decision-makers in 28 countries across several industry sectors, including healthcare. The results show that 88% of healthcare organisations have accelerated their cloud adoption because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and resulting business and economic fallout.

The healthcare sector has been on the frontline in the struggle against COVID-19 and digital transformation is seen to be making a positive impact on productivity and patient care during this time of critical need. The survey reveals remote working, cost savings and improved IT agility were three main reasons for the switch to cloud-based infrastructure. But, this rapid shift to the cloud may open organisations to a higher risk of cyber threats, the cybersecurity firm says.

According to them, there are four main challenges organisations reportedly faced when moving to cloud-based environments. The four main issues are skills shortages, day-to-day operations, increased costs and security responsibility. They added that while cloud migration is not simple, it can be enabled and improved using the right security tools. Additionally, the broader attack surface of an expanded digital infrastructure must be given due consideration. With the right cloud-ready solutions in place, HCO’s can maximise cloud benefits without putting mission-critical systems or patient data at risk.

The New Zealnd Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade stated that as people around the globe share information, communicate and trade with one another online, the growth of the internet continues to deliver massive social and economic change. Being connected online has greatly benefited New Zealand and New Zealanders alike, especially in today’s new normal. As the benefits increase, so does is dependence on a free, open and secure internet and trusted underlying infrastructure and technology.

According to a report by the country’s Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (DPMC), the benefits of these global connections will continue to increase. Being able to work, play and interact safely online is a critical enabler for the country’s economic, social and cultural development – New Zealand is becoming a digital nation. The scope of their digital space usage ranges from the basic functioning of New Zealand’s economy and society – from jobs, banks, schools – to the delivery of government and telecommunications, and electricity services. While around 90% of New Zealand’s population are active internet users, everyone depends on the internet.

In New Zealand, cybersecurity is fundamental to a robust and thriving society, magnified by the effects of the pandemic. The nation’s dependence on cyberspace means that securing their networks, systems, programmes and data from attack or unwanted access is of vital and of increasing importance. As reported by OpenGov Asia, the country’s Minister of Broadcasting, Communications and Digital Media Hon Kris Faafoi announced that funding from Budget 2019, together with a revised Cyber Security Strategy they have just released, will intensify the Government’s focus on cybersecurity.

The Minister shared that the Government had allocated NZ$ 8 million over the next four years to help implement the strategy. The strategy also sets out the Government’s priorities on cybercrime and how New Zealand will continue to champion a free, open and secure internet internationally.

The new Cyber Security Strategy highlights four fundamentals for cybersecurity in New Zealand. These are:

  1. Partnerships are crucial
  2. People are secure and human rights are respected online
  3. Economic growth is enhanced
  4. National security is protected.

Meanwhile, the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), recorded 347 incidents, largely affecting organisations of national significance in the 2017 financial year, with 39% of those incidents linked to state-sponsored actors. The NCSC is part of the Government Communications Security Bureau that helps New Zealand’s most significant public and private sector organisations to protect their information systems from advanced cyber-borne threats.

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