Government to spend $22.2 million to help combat cyber crime, Key says
By Tina Morrison
May 5 (BusinessDesk) - The government will spend $22.2 million over the next four years to help combat cyber crime.
In a pre-budget announcement, Prime Minister John Key told the country's first ever Cyber Security Summit in Auckland that the government had earmarked $20 million of new operating funding over the next four years and $2.2 million of new capital to set up a national Computer Emergency Response Team to help prevent and act on cyber incidents in partnership with the private sector and other organisations.
More than 856,000 New Zealanders were estimated to be affected by cyber crime last year, costing the economy $257 million. Attacks can range from computer viruses and malware, credit card fraud, online scams, phishing and identity theft through to full-scale incidents such as the leaking online of company information experienced by Sony Pictures, the theft of credit card details from more than 110 million customers of US department store Target, or the shutdown of Ukraine's power grid.
"Cyber incidents and attacks threaten our economy," Key said. "They can undermine our strategic and competitive advantages and cost our economy millions of dollars each year. The government takes the protection of our businesses and economy from this growing threat seriously."
In 2011, the government launched its first every Cyber Security Strategy and opened a National Cyber Security Centre to help defend government agencies and critical infrastructure providers against cyber threats. Key said the response team, or CERT, is a central part of the scheme, helping to defend businesses and infrastructure against cyber attacks.
The government is investing more than $2 billion in building faster, more reliable broadband infrastructure to boost the economy but needs to ensure the online environment is as safe and secure as possible, he said.
"Cyber attacks can bring it to a screaming halt - or worse, bring it crashing down," Key said. "There is no point in building a brand new house to then leave the front door unlocked."
New Zealand's geographic location in the South Pacific had previously helped keep the country safe from traditional forms of attack in the past, but it wouldn't protect the nation from cyber crime, he said. "Malicious cyber attacks can be perpetrated from anywhere in the world, at any time and by anyone."
Key said New Zealand is dealing with state-sponsored espionage by foreign countries and organised criminal groups and faces attacks by extremists, terrorists, issue-motivated activists, lone cyber hackers and disgruntled insiders.
"These attacks require a comprehensive and coordinated response," he said.
CERT will be a separate unit in the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment and is expected to be in operation in the first quarter of 2017. It will become part of an international network of CERTs, joining a global effort to improve internet security, the government said.