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Cybersecurity attacks on New Zealand small business double

By Ryan Morris-Reade, Fri 29 Oct 2021

Cybersecurity is a growing issue for New Zealand small business, with attacks doubling in the past three years.

The 2021 HP New Zealand IT Security Survey, a three-yearly review of the attitudes, behaviours and preparedness of NZ SMBs towards IT security, found cybersecurity attacks on small business in 2021 occurred twice as often as in 2018, with more than half (54%) of respondents seeing evidence of security breaches in their workplace in the past year.

This is despite mid-market business nearly tripling their investment in IT security over the past three years. Companies that experienced a cyberattack faced an average cost of $159,000 per attack.

"New Zealand small business, especially mid-market business, have improved their security preparedness in the past three years but what we are seeing are small businesses facing more sophisticated attacks," says HP New Zealand enterprise sales leader, Mike Jamieson. 

"We know that COVID has increased the number of people working from home. While this creates new opportunities for workplace flexibility, productivity and mobility, it also opens up workplace networks to new vulnerabilities," he says.

"Our research tells us that for many businesses, there is a growing security risk, with remote working and employee carelessness being identified amongst the key security threats to small businesses today."

The pandemic has seen more companies adopting flexible working, with 81% of respondents allowing staff to work from home, 44% of respondents identified employee carelessness, and 43% highlighted internet-connected devices as significant security threats, not far behind outdated software at 49%.

Two-thirds of businesses (67%) identified endpoint security as key to network security, with many seeing the threats from unsecured endpoints such as employees using personal devices for work purposes, work devices used for personal reasons, or unsecured devices like printers connected to their network.

As a result, over one-third of respondents (37%) reported increasing their investment in cybersecurity because of the pandemic, 43% in the mid-market, 26% in small business.

"The good news is that there is widespread awareness of the threat, and investment in IT security has nearly tripled in the past three years with more businesses instituting security policies and procedures as well as increasing training," says Jamieson.

"While malware and viruses remain the most popular methods of cyberattacks, there are also plenty of ways for a business to protect itself. Using technology that is secure by design and intelligent enough to detect, contain and mitigate threats and their impact - and to recover quickly in the event of a breach - is key. 60% of NZ mid-market businesses are already using endpoint security to protect their networks," he says.

Other key findings from the HP New Zealand IT Security Survey include:

  • NZ businesses that have fallen victim to a cyberattack identified the most significant impact of a breach on their business was disruption to business operations (51%) followed by financial cost (40%) and damage to reputation (37%).
  • Three times more businesses who fell victim to a cyber-attack saw legal and compliance implications than in 2018.
  • Two-thirds of all small and medium businesses have policies or training in place relating to online security, versus 55% in 2018. In the mid-market, the uptake is even higher at 78%.
  • Mid-market business spend an average of $280,000 per year on IT security, while small businesses have kept their spending steady at an average of $41,000.
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