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Cyber security literacy needed to reduce security issues

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Source: MakeLemonade.nz

Tāmaki Makaurau – Most cyber security issues are closer to home than Kiwis realise.

In the first quarter of this year, CERT NZ received 568 reports about scams and fraud with an associated direct financial loss of $5.9 million, an increase of 269 percent from the last quarter.

NZTech chief executive Graeme Muller says RealMe, the government digital identity system used to log into services like Inland Revenue and My Covid Record, temporarily stopping working last week creating concerns by some that a Russian cyber attack was underway. 

The Department of Internal Affairs, the agency running RealMe, confirmed the issues weren’t related to a cyber attack, but 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 8331 reported cyber attacks or online scams reported, up 6.7 percent from 2020.

“While the threat of Russian cyber attacks could be a possibility, the reality is most cyber security issues faced by Kiwis stem from a lack of understanding of how to operate safely online,” Muller says.

“Talk of Russian cyber attacks are a distraction and our focus needs to be closer to home and how to be safe online. 

“Risks continue to change and develop and we need to do a better job of educating people and businesses of how to spot them and avoid them.“According to CERT NZ, there was a 1000 percent increase 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.

“Likewise, 138 businesses reported that they had been victim to phishing or credential harvesting attacks, where their staff inadvertently provide access to information that hackers can later use to attack the business.

“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 implications of not investing in training and educating your staff is the loss of real money, with CERT NZ reporting that in the last quarter of 2021 more than $6 million was lost by Kiwis to cyber attackers.”

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.

Every year, NZTech hosts the New Zealand cyber security summit where business leaders gather to share their latest cyber security insights. This July, the summit in Te Whanganui-a-Tara (Wellington) includes discussions on topics such as securely managing a hybrid workforce, transforming security into a business enabler and locating the risks in your business.

For further information contact NZTech’s media specialist, Make Lemonade editor-in-chief Kip Brook on 0275 030188