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NZ's primary industries that support the bulk of the economy are least prepared for cybersecurity threats

Divina Paredes | Oct. 3, 2014
New survey conducted by University of Waikatofor and Vodafone reveals more than half of local businesses experience IT security attacks at least once a year.

James says there are also software update services for malware, so the malware updates itself. "They are taking a leaf from our own IT systems."

The rise of mobility also means businesses now grapple with security information outside the business environment, says James.

Mobile devices are outgrowing laptops, and there is more likelihood a tablet or mobile will be left behind in a bar or taxi compared to a laptop. The survey found 83 per cent of lost smartphones in 2014 resulted in compromised business data.

Small businesses or those with under 250 staff account for 30 per cent of targeted attacks. To avoid detection, most of the attacks and hacking occur during weekends.

Despite these statistics, six out of 10 companies have no plans to increase their investment in IT security, notes James.

"Business leaders and IT managers need to re-evaluate where information is sitting these days; who has access to it and what security policies they have in place to protect against and prevent attack," says James.

"The future for true cybersecurity lies with the vigilance of IT decision-makers — to ensure their systems are capable — and network providers to build more intelligent infrastructure capable of acting on threats to protect not only an individual user, but the overall integrity of the network," says James.

Vodafone, he says, has deployed its own system called Vodafone Secure Device Manager (VSDM), which enables a company to remotely manage and secure any device on its network — whether company owned or part of a BYOD program.

"We need to ensure information is protected, regardless of where it resides. Intelligent networks operate by understanding what devices are connected to it, who is using those devices, who and what they're communicating with and what they're talking about.

"Without this intricate knowledge, businesses run the risk of creating chinks in their armour and opening themselves up for attack," says James.

Ko, meanwhile, says the Cyber Security Lab at the University of Waikato is working on user centric tools. "The goal is to create tools which will allow everyone to have capability to get back to business or address a security problem as easy as it is to send an SMS."


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