Launch of Connect Smart WeekCommunications and Information Technology
Good morning. It is my pleasure to welcome you all to the launch of Connect Smart Week.
Firstly, I would like to acknowledge the contribution made by our sponsors and partners.
By supporting Connect Smart you play a key role in ensuring that New Zealanders the length and breadth of the country are empowered to make themselves and their businesses more secure online.
In addition, we have about 50 partners for the Connect Smart campaign, including government agencies, businesses and non-government organisations or industry bodies.
These partners are all committed to spreading the Connect Smart message of protecting yourselves, your businesses, and your families online.
It is fantastic to enjoy this level of support for the campaign – and a fitting reflection of the importance that public-private partnership plays in creating a climate of cyber security awareness.
The 2014 Connect Smart campaign provides a series of interactive online activities that will offer people practical and easily-implemented steps to improve their level of security online.
Our key message is simple: Connect Smart: protect yourself online.
By taking some basic steps, you can protect yourself – and your data – online. You don’t need to be an IT expert – you just need to be pro-active.
But what is the imperative to act?
Ultra-Fast Broadband, the Rural Broadband Initiative and fourth generation mobile networks are all having an impact on the way New Zealanders are using the internet.
By the end of 2019, 97.8 per cent of New Zealanders will have access to faster broadband.
As we become more connected, the significance of the internet to us increases. It reduces the effects of our geographical isolation and provides us with a means to reach out to others, to receive information, and to do business.
This inter-connectedness offers possibilities and opportunity that were unimaginable to earlier generations of New Zealanders.
Many of us now rely on the internet to meet our personal and business needs, and the devices that we are using to connect to it have become permanent residents in our pockets, briefcases and bags.
As part of the Connect Smart initiative, research has been carried out on how New Zealanders are using the internet.
Nearly three quarters of the survey’s participants owned a smartphone; and of those smartphone owners, 79 per cent carried their devices wherever they went.
But there is another telling angle to this picture.
Of those smartphone owners, only 58 per cent protect their phone with locks or passwords.
Of those who use a smartphone for work, the percentage is even lower at 52 per cent; while only 44 per cent of those using a tablet for work have their device protected by a password.
Participants in the research were also asked about their usage of the internet. Almost all of those questioned used the internet for email, while 85 per cent used it for social media and 82 per cent for internet banking. As I alluded to earlier, the internet has become an important and positive influence in our lives.
But again, there were some telling responses when the question of cyber security was raised. Over half of the participants used a relatively limited range of passwords across all their online activities, with only a third of those questioned regularly changing their password unprompted.
More positively, most people do appear to update their antivirus software and ensure that they have an adequate firewall, at least occasionally.
So it seems that we should, on the one hand, be encouraged that New Zealanders are connecting to the internet in ever increasing numbers while, on the other hand, acknowledge that there is more we must do to make people aware of the importance of cyber security.
And that is what Connect Smart Week is all about; simple, practical advice that people can implement with minimum fuss to make themselves more secure as they go about their business online.
But Connect Smart is not just focused on individuals. Businesses, especially small and medium businesses, can do more to make themselves secure.
There is no doubt that IT systems have transformed the way businesses operate, and they have become essential tools for innovation and growth, enabling them to be more nimble, efficient, and to increase productivity.
To that end, we should be focussed on ways to ensure that businesses are able to maximise the gains from internet connectivity, while minimising losses incurred through poor online security.
That is why later this week we will be launching a cybersecurity toolkit for Small and Medium businesses.
The toolkit has been informed by a group drawn from Connect Smart partners and will offer business owners the simple but effective tools they need to improve their online security.
But what are the cyber threats that we face?
I think few people would take issue with the assertion that the threats emanating from the cyber domain are real, sophisticated and growing.
They originate from a variety of sources, and encompass widely differing agendas and aims.
And as technology evolves, so too can the risks. Use of the cloud, for example, has offered us new and exciting opportunities, but we would be naïve to ignore its associated security challenges.
The common thread that unites cyber threats is their capacity to cause damage; ranging in scale from the distress experienced by an individual who has had their identity hacked, to the economic damage that sustained industrial cyber espionage can cause to a country.
Focussing on one aspect of this problem, Go-Gulf’s Cyber Crime statistics and trends makes for interesting reading. Current estimates for the annual global cost of cybercrime put the figure at about $100 billion.
But measuring the costs of cybercrime is difficult – not all incidents are reported and some losses, such as intellectual property theft or the loss of business secrets, are hard to quantify in the short term.
Globally, cybercrime accounts for 556 million known victims every year – an average of 18 people a second.
Some of those people will be New Zealanders, and all of them will have had their lives disrupted in unwelcome and potentially intrusive ways.
The methods used by criminals to deceive their victims are increasingly sophisticated and often capitalise on people’s lack of cyber security awareness.
On a global basis, one in 10 social network users have admitted to falling victim to a scam or a fake link. That, of course, is just the tip of the iceberg.
There are, unfortunately, plenty of examples of cyber breaches that I could draw upon.
At the higher end of the spectrum, the recent attack on e-Bay has resulted in the compromise of a database containing the personal data of up to 128 million users – rich pickings for criminals.
And while there is debate among the IT community about the most appropriate course of action for individuals to take in response to this sort of threat, there appears to be a consensus that higher levels of cybersecurity awareness are a good place to start.
But it’s not all bad news.
You will be aware of the recent action taken against the Gameover Zeus botnet.
This botnet, which had succeeded in harvesting about US$100 million (NZ $118.32m) by accessing people’s bank log-in details, was shut down by US, UK and other government law enforcement agencies, working in concert with global technology companies and Internet Service Providers.
This is an excellent example of multi-national cooperation against a highly complex criminal action.
So what are we doing to counter these threats?
My first observation, and a theme to which I often return, is that we have a shared responsibility when it comes to raising the standard of cyber security in New Zealand.
Every step taken by individuals, the private sector and government agencies that advances cybersecurity benefits us all. This is a shared problem that requires an approach entrenched in partnerships.
Towards this end, New Zealand’s Cyber Security Strategy has three priorities:
- To raise cyber security awareness amongst individuals and small businesses;
- To improve cyber security across Government; and
- To build strategic relationships to improve cyber security for critical national infrastructure and other businesses.
Raising cyber security awareness among New Zealanders is at the heart of Connect Smart Week. This initiative will empower individuals and business owners to take simple, practical steps to improve their online security.
Our government website – connectsmart.govt.nz – directly addresses the main barrier to people taking steps to improve their cyber security: confusion over what or who to trust.
Our aim is to provide reliable, straightforward information designed for a non-technical audience and tailored to individual needs.
The more people we can reach with the Connect Smart message, the greater the potential benefit for us all.
For its part, Government is continuing to develop and implement ever higher standards of cyber security.
A range of departments are involved – from those at the front end, such as Police, Department of Internal Affairs, and the National Cyber Security Centre, through to those grappling with the policy implications of cyber security, led by the National Cyber Policy Office.
This year, the NCPO will be working on a number of major policy initiatives:
- A refreshed and comprehensive national Cyber Security Strategy to make sure we are coordinated and resourced across government to address this challenge;
- A targeted inter-agency cybercrime plan;
- An assessment of the economic balance of cyberspace for New Zealand;
- Testing the Government’s response to a significant cyber incident; and
- Consideration of the options for a national cyber mechanism to improve the coordination, effectiveness and efficiency of the Government’s response to cyber incidents.
There is plenty to be optimistic about in the cyber world, but there are challenges that we will have to tackle along the way.
Our responses to those challenges will need to be agile and innovative. That will be best achieved by working together, as partners.
This week is the start of that partnership.
It now gives me great pleasure to officially launch the start of Connect Smart Week.