NZ businesses urged to face up to increasing cyberattacks as survey highlights threats

A hacker sitting at a computer
Companies could reduce the cost substantially by having a better strategy. Photo credit: Getty Images

The managing director of Accenture New Zealand has called on New Zealand businesses to commit to doing more to prevent cyberattacks in 2022.

Ben Morgan said the results of the company's State of Cyber Resilience report, which surveyed more than 4700 executives globally, reinforces what has already been seen in Aotearoa.

That has included several incidents of high-profile organisations being targeted and hackers successfully accessing personal information and causing significant disruption.

"Over the past year the Reserve Bank and the Waikato DHB have both been victims of cyber-crime, alongside some of our biggest banks and internet service providers," Morgan said.

"These attacks had different levels of severity, but they all led to disruption to day-to-day business and flow-on impacts for ordinary Kiwis."

The report found 55 percent of large companies surveyed were not effective in stopping cyberattacks, fixing the breaches or reducing their impact.

It also found that four out of five respondents believe the constant battle to stay ahead of potential attackers is "unsustainable", a 17 percent increase on last year.

They may have a point: 82 percent of those surveyed said their companies had increased spending on cybersecurity, while the number of successful attacks had still jumped by 31 percent in the last year.


That has prompted the call for New Zealand businesses to protect themselves better.

"We'd like to see Kiwi businesses take a step back and consider how they're putting together their cyberstrategies," Morgan said.

"Chief Information Security Officers need to work with key decision makers to develop a strategy that addresses cyber risk while fulfilling business priorities."

By doing so, organisations could reduce their cost of breaches by between 48 and 71 percent, the survey found.

"We know it will take time for businesses to change the way they work, but the reality is that it is only becoming more difficult to stop these attacks," Morgan continued. 

"Ultimately, we want to see less businesses fall victim to cyberattacks and less Kiwis impacted by potentially having their personal information compromised."

In October an HP survey of small and medium businesses (SMB) in Aotearoa found cyberattacks in 2021 were occurring twice as often as in 2018.

Over half of the respondents had 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 those mid-market businesses nearly tripling their investment in IT security over the past three years.