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The state of information security: Kiwi businesses not confident

By Shannon Williams
Thu 8 Oct 2015
FYI, this story is more than a year old

Confidence is slipping amongst Kiwi organisations in regards to cyber security, according to recent insights from PWC.

The firm’s annual Global State of Information Security Survey has revealed New Zealand organisations have far less confidence in their own information security activities (as well as their suppliers) than they did last year.

PwC Cyber Practice Leader Adrian van Hest says that while confidence has dropped, it is likely a more accurate picture of real versus perceived risk.

According to the survey, 83% of New Zealand respondents last year were confident or somewhat confident that their organisations’ information security activities were effective, compared to 65% this year.

The drop in confidence is even wider in the security activities of New Zealand organisations’ partners and suppliers – last year 82% of New Zealand respondents were very or somewhat confident, compared to 57% this year.

As more organisations adopt risk frameworks, they are gaining a better understanding of their risks and what they need to do to manage them, according to van Hest.

In recent years, the survey data in New Zealand has shown that high confidence doesn’t necessarily match the actual measures taken to secure information.

“The reason for this, at least anecdotally, is that some organisations say that no one has told them something is wrong so they choose to believe there is no issue,” van Hest explains. “Another reason is many New Zealand organisations trust their suppliers and believe that they will simply do the right thing when needed – despite the absence of or even the specific exclusion of security obligations from contractual agreements,” he says.

“When called upon to conduct breach assessments in New Zealand, we have identified a significant issue about 90% of the time,” van Hest says.

“What is alarming is that our data indicates that two-thirds of breach notifications now come from outside of the organisation. The reality is until you have invested time in understanding your current state – and that this critical information is driving your security activity – you can never truly know.”

Van Hest says in order to have an effective strategy, organisations must understand which assets are most important to them, and then focus resources on dynamically protecting them by being in a position to detect, respond and recover when there is an incident.

“The organisations that want to maintain trust and stay competitive are those using a targeted information security approach,” he explains.

“There is no magic bullet for effective cyber security. It’s a journey towards a culture of security, not a solution in and of itself. It is a path that starts with the right mix of technologies, processes and people skills,” van Hest adds.

“The organisations that will flourish in tomorrow’s interconnected world are those which recognise that good cyber security is good business; and by managing their risks, they can use digital technologies and their information assets to realise opportunity with confidence.”

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