Cyberattacks on New Zealand businesses increasing dramatically, now cost an average of $159k each - research

Nearly half of businesses say employee carelessness is a security concern.
Nearly half of businesses say employee carelessness is a security concern. Photo credit: Getty Images

Just how much of a growing problem cybersecurity issues are for small and medium businesses (SMB) in New Zealand has been made clear in new research.

The HP security survey spoke to over 500 SMBs in Aotearoa across a range of different industries in August and found cyberattacks in 2021 are occurring twice as often as they did in 2018.

Over half of the respondents have seen evidence of security breaches in their workplace in the past year, with each cyberattack costing an average of NZ$159,000.

This is despite businesses nearly tripling their investment in IT security over the past three years.

"NZ small businesses have really improved their security preparedness but what we are seeing is they're facing more sophisticated attacks," said Mike Jamieson, enterprise sales leader for HP New Zealand. 

"We know that COVID-19 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."

Remote working has been identified as being amongst the key security threats, said Jamieson, with nearly 70 percent of all businesses in Aotearoa having staff working from home.

Outdated software is a big concern for nearly half of the respondents, while employees being careless with security was close behind at 44 percent.

Two-thirds of businesses identified endpoint security as key to staying secure, with many seeing the threats from employees using personal devices for work, work devices being used for personal reasons and unsecured devices like printers being connected to their network as issues.

The pandemic and the proliferation of working from home led to 37 percent of SMBs increasing their investment in cybersecurity.

"The good news is that there is widespread awareness of the threat, with more businesses instituting security policies and procedures as well as increasing training,” Jamieson said.

“While malware and viruses remain the most popular methods of cyberattacks, there are also plenty of ways for business to protect itself."

Other key findings include:

  • NZ businesses which have fallen victim to a cyberattack identified the greatest impact of a breach on their business was disruption to business operations (51 percent) followed by financial cost (40 percent) and damage to reputation (37 percent
  • 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 percent  in 2018
  • Mid-market businesses spend an average of $280,000 per year on IT security, while small businesses have kept their spend at a steady at an average of $41,000.