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New Zealand’s strategy for cybersecurity

A lot of people are connected digitally on a daily basis and the risk of cyberattacks is growing with it, according to a recent report.

Just like other countries in the world, New Zealand must find ways to counter this growing threat.

Cybersecurity and criminality are inextricably linked in this interconnected world. Connected devices for ‘smart’ homes, called the Internet of Things (IoT), are an easy target for cyber criminals.

Smart appliances such as refrigerator, washing machine, and TV have limited security capabilities, which make them vulnerable to cyberattack by sophisticated data mining algorithms.

The consequences of these attacks can be serious as it can risk human life. The healthcare has been an attractive target for cyber criminals.

The Bay of Plenty District Healthy Board, for instance, has been facing as many as 864,000 cyberattacks a day, or 10 cyberattacks per second.

Cybersecurity is a serious issue that needs to be addressed urgently. But governments around the world are struggling to introduce laws and regulations to effectively combat the threat.

The European Union (EU) introduced the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in May of this year. It is reshaping the way data is collected and handled by healthcare, banking, and other sectors.

The regulation requires organisations to explicitly get the consent of the user for a specific purpose and providing them with an avenue to withdrawing consent easily.

Moreover, the GDPR requires organisations to notify individuals within 72 hours of detecting any data breach. Failure to comply with this will mean penalty for the organisation.

Aside from EU member states, other countries including New Zealand and Australia, have welcomed GDPR and reformed their own privacy acts.

New Zealand’s latest Privacy Bill, which was introduced in March 2018, better aligns the country’s privacy law with GDPR.

For a privacy breach, a penalty of up to NZ$ 10,000 can be given, although a recommendation by New Zealand’s Privacy Commissioner asks for a fine of up to NZ$ 1 million for a serious privacy breach.

GDPR is putting pressure on organisations to properly protect the data, while also providing organisations an opportunity to embrace innovative business models with a focus on user privacy.

Before the regulation came into force, many countries have defined cybersecurity strategies in order to deal with potential cyber threats.

The cybersecurity strategy of New Zealand has four main goals. These are exercising cyber resilience, having cyber capabilities, improving cybersecurity, and increasing international cooperation.

Cybersecurity is one of those new careers that did not exist a decade ago. There is a global shortage of people with cybersecurity skills and New Zealand is not an exception.

It would be a wise choice to earn qualifications in this sector and become a cybersecurity practitioner.

Many universities have introduced degree programmes in Cybersecurity like the University of Auckland, which offers the Master of Professional Studies in Digital Security.

The Cyber Security Foundry was also launched. It is a hub for world-leading technical expertise, industry collaboration, training of security professionals, and the development of new security solutions.

All computer users need to be aware of cybersecurity threats and the growing risk they pose to systems and privacy.

The following recommendations could help reduce the chance of attack at the same time protecting personal and business systems.

Organisations should comply with privacy policies. They should store and backup the data of customers in encrypted form.

It is essential that employees are educated. They should learn how to deal with cyberattacks. Also, buying cyber insurance is good.

Users should protect personal information. It is important to tighten the privacy and security settings on the apps installed.

Software and apps should be downloaded from trusted sites or stores. Devices should be physically secured. Avoid using simple passwords and ensure that they are secured. Lastly, it is always important to be aware of cyberattacks.

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