As part of the new Cyber Security Strategy and Action Plan, the Government has launched the cyber credentials scheme for Kiwi SMEs.
This initiative is designed to encourage New Zealand businesses to protect themselves online and recognise those with good cyber security practices with a ‘cyber security tick’, according to the Government.
Amy Adams, Communications Minister, says, “The rollout of Ultra-Fast Broadband and technological changes are transforming the way businesses operate. It’s opening up new opportunities for New Zealanders to export goods and services around the country and the world.
“But operating online also carries risks. Cyber attacks cost businesses around the world billions in stolen goods and capital, not to mention lost opportunities and productivity.”
In New Zealand, around 95% of small businesses use the internet, 66% have a website, and 44% use internet sales, according to the Government.
A survey of New Zealand small businesses released in October reveals that 42% of small businesses are concerned about hackers gaining access to their data.
Furthermore, a recent US survey revealed that small businesses are increasingly the focus of cyber attacks, with 71% of attacks occurring in businesses of less than 100 people. According to UK research, 74% of small businesses reported they had experienced a security breach.
“One of the core actions of the new Cyber Security Strategy and Action Plan is to build the capability of small businesses to improve their cyber security,” Craig Foss, Small Business Minister, says.
“Small businesses make an important contribution to New Zealand’s economy - around 27% of GDP. We can’t ignore the risks and impacts that cyber threats have on such a big part of the economy.
“Small and medium businesses need to take steps to protect their online records as much as they keep their buildings and physical assets safe.
“It’s critical for the commercial success of small businesses and for the ability of New Zealand to do business online. It’s also important for protecting our national economy against cyber attacks.” Foss says.
The cyber credentials scheme proposed for small businesses will mean that businesses with good cyber security practices will have a ‘cyber security tick’ similar to schemes that acknowledge, for example, healthy food choices or energy efficient appliances.
“It will enable small businesses to demonstrate to their customers and business connections that they have put in place the basic cyber security practices,” Adams says.
The proposal is similar to the UK’s ‘Cyber Essentials’ scheme. The details of the cyber credentials scheme are in development, and small businesses will be a part of the process, the Government said in a statement.
The scheme complements the Connect Smart online questionnaire and SME Cyber Security Toolkit - two initiatives already underway as part of the Connect Smart public-private collaboration to improve cyber security, Adams says.