Communications minister Amy Adams has released a report into cyber security commissioned by the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet showing that the level of cyber security adopted by New Zealanders is falling. The research, undertaken by Colmar Brunton, found that 76 percent of New Zealanders are proactively taking steps to manage their cyber security, down from 84 percent in 2014.
“Compared to last year, fewer people are now updating or installing security software (64 percent down from 70 percent in 2015), changing passwords (63 percent down from 68 percent in 2015), ensuring they are using a secure connection (57 percent down from 61 percent in 2015), and checking their social media privacy settings (56 percent down from 60 percent in 2015),” the report said.
Adams said the research suggested that only 17 percent of New Zealanders had received training or advice about cyber security at work. “[The research] found that 20 percent of New Zealanders have been affected by cybercrime in the last year, and this figure rises to 72 percent when spam and suspicious emails are included.”
The Australian Strategic Policy Institute’s (ASPI) International Cyber Policy Centre (ICPC) second annual Cyber Maturity in the Asia-Pacific Region report, released in September, concluded that New Zealand maintained its ranking of sixth place.
Less positive was the report on cyber security practices of New Zealand organisations released earlier in October by PricewaterhouseCoopers. PwC said they had failed to evolve to keep pace with digital transformation and were lagging well behind those in other countries.
The Colmar Brunton research, based on a survey of 1000 New Zealanders, found lack of knowledge remained a barrier to implementing cyber security measures. “Taking steps to manage cyber security is held back by a lack of knowledge around what steps should be taken – 41 percent of those who do not regularly take steps say this is a barrier to doing so (up from 32 percent in 2014).”
The research has been released to coincide with Connect Smart Week, an annual event run by Connect Smart, the New Zealand government’s cyber security awareness campaign. The focus this year is “Equipping New Zealanders to be cyber secure at work.”
Adams said the global cost of cyber crime was now around $600 billion a year, making it bigger than the global drugs trade. “It is imperative New Zealanders are aware of cyber risks and take simple steps to protect themselves, including creating strong passwords, keeping a look out for suspicious, unsolicited emails, and thinking before they click.”