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NZ Govt attempts to outpace cybercriminals with new strategy

The Government has launched a refreshed national Cyber Security Strategy to ensure New Zealanders remain safe, resilient and prosperous online, according to a statement.

The strategy was launched by Communications Minister Amy Adams with an Action Plan and a National Plan to Address Cybercrime.

“The Government is building infrastructure and investing $2 billion into our Ultra-Fast Broadband and Rural Broadband Initiative programmes because we want New Zealanders to engage in the digital economy,” says Adams.

“While New Zealand has benefited enormously from the innovations offered by technology, it has also led to new vulnerabilities.

“The threat to New Zealanders and the economy from cyber intrusions is real and growing, and there are serious implications for our economic wellbeing and national security.

“The pace of change and emergence of new and complex threats mean constant vigilance is required. By refreshing the action plan each year we will keep pace with any emerging threats,” she says.

While New Zealand has yet to experience a significant cyber attack, estimated economic losses last year alone reached $257 million.

According to research, 56% of New Zealand businesses experience an information technology security attack at least once a year and only 65% of businesses are confident that their IT security systems are effective.

When it comes to individuals, Connect Smart 2014 research found 83% of New Zealanders have experienced a cyber breach.

“Unlike traditional threats, we need to understand that New Zealand’s geographical position offers no protection against cyber threats.

“New Zealand is experiencing cyber incidents, including growing cybercrime, in the same way as countries around the world,” says Adams.

“The Government and private sector need to work together on cyber security. The private and public sectors must find ways to share information and expertise to address cyber security risks and this strategy relies on a close and active public-private partnership to ensure New Zealanders remain safe online,” she says.

A key action in the new strategy is the development of a national CERT (Computer Emergency Response Team) to reduce harm from cyber security incidents and improve New Zealand’s ability to deal with attacks, Adams says.

The CERT will act as a single entry point for organisations or individuals needing assistance, and provide information to businesses, including small and medium enterprises, government and individuals so they can protect themselves from cyber threats.

“New Zealand’s key international partners each have a national CERT of some form, and creation of our national CERT brings us into alignment,” Adams says.

She says the CERT is intended as a partnership between the public and private sectors, and will work with companies and government agencies depending on the nature of the issue.

The Cyber Security Strategy contains four areas of work:

  • Cyber resilience is about the on-going protection of New Zealand’s most important information infrastructures
  • Cyber capability involves building the skills of New Zealanders, businesses and government agencies to protect themselves online, spearheaded by the Connect Smart public-private partnership
  • Addressing cybercrime will focus on building police capability to deal with cybercrime
  • International cooperation will allow New Zealand to maintain a voice internationally on the promotion of a free, open and secure cyberspace, and involves international engagement on cyber security issues.

Adams also announced New Zealand will host its first ever Cyber Security Summit in the first half of 2016 in Auckland.

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