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NZTech calls for Govt to fund cybersecurity education as risk ramps up

New Zealanders must be educated about cyber risks, and the Government must help fund this, according to the New Zealand Tech Alliance (NZTech).

NZTech says it's time for the Government to put funding into educating Kiwis about how to avoid being a victim of cyber crime, just as it does for road safety.

NZTech chief executive Graeme Muller says as New Zealand businesses operate within an increasingly digital environment, cyber threats are growing in sophistication and magnitude.

Organisations are needing to bring cybersecurity to the forefront of their digital strategy to ensure they are operating at their peak and to protect both customers and staff, Muller says.

He says, “New Zealand organisations and businesses are facing increasing and rampant cyber crime threats, and the situation is getting worse.

“Almost a million New Zealanders are falling victim to cyber crime every year. Not long ago the Reserve Bank of New Zealand suffered a data breach and Australians are on high alert following a series of cyber attack threats.”

NZTech states ransomware has become the biggest threat, used by criminals to lock up peoples systems and data and then demand a ransom in return for their release.

In the United States, agencies including the FBI have warned that the healthcare system is facing an increased and imminent threat of cyber crime.

Furthermore, cyber criminals are unleashing a series of extortion attempts in the new frontier of crime aimed at locking up hospital information systems.

Kiwi businesses and organisations must act immediately to block future cyber hacks, which is now costing New Zealand vast sums every year, especially as the COVID-19 pandemic has increased reliance on digital devices and the internet.

Muller says, "The world of cybersecurity and attacks are rife, and CERT NZ, the government entity that tracks cyber breaches, says Kiwis are not protecting their digital systems."

According to Muller, about 87% of New Zealanders concede security of their personal information online is important, but 40% say safeguarding their information is inconvenient.

Furthermore, nearly a third of New Zealanders don’t regularly check the privacy settings on their social media accounts.

Roughly the same number of people do not use two-factor authentication when logging into an online account.

In order to push the importance of cybersecurity education, NZTech is staging the biggest cyber risk summit in Wellington on February 24.

Summit delegates will hear experts and peers at the coal face of cybersecurity discuss the realities of cyber risk in the modern business environment.

The summit includes key speaker Australian ambassador for cyber affairs and critical tech, Dr Tobias Feakin.