03 443 5499

A data breach involves any unauthorized access to confidential, sensitive, or protected information, and it can happen to anyone.

Internationally well known companies such as Apple, Meta, Twitter, and Samsung have all disclosed cybersecurity attacks this year.

In the most recent quarter, CERT NZ responded to 2,001 incident reports about individuals and businesses from all over New Zealand.

In New Zealand Phishing and credential harvesting remains the most reported incident category (from CertNZ).

This graph shows the breakdown by incident category for the past quarter in New Zealand.

Australian telecoms company Optus – which has 9.7 million subscribers, suffered a “massive” data breach this year. According to reports, names, dates of birth, phone numbers, and email addresses may have been exposed, while a group of customers may have also had their physical addresses and documents like driving licenses and passport numbers accessed.

IBM found the cost of a breach hit a record high this year, at nearly $4.4 million.

So how does a data breach happen?

Data breaches happen mainly when hackers can exploit user behaviour or technology vulnerabilities.

The threat surface continues to grow exponentially. We are increasingly reliant on digital tools such as smartphones and laptops. With the Internet of Things (IoT), we’re adding even more endpoints that unauthorized users can access.

Popular methods for executing malicious data breaches include:

  • Phishing – emails in which hackers persuade users to hand over access credentials or the data itself.
  • Brute-force attacks – hackers use software and sometimes even hijacked devices to guess password combinations until they get in.
  • Malware – infects the operating system, software, or hardware (often without the user knowing) and steals private data.
  • Disgruntled employees or political hacktivists can also be behind data breaches. However, more often than you would hope, the breach is due to poor cyber hygiene.

How to reduce risk to your business:

Here are some key tips for mitigating risks to your business. If you require help with these, please reach out.

  • Identify what is exposed to the internet: to help mitigate this risk, it’s important to identify what is being exposed to the internet. Your IT Alliance member can help you do this. You can also use scanning tools like Nmap and Nessus to help assess your situation.
  • Only expose what you really need to: Reducing the number of services you use lowers the number of targets that attackers have access to. This is known as reducing your attack surface.
  • Segment your network to stop – internet-exposed services from reaching your internal network. If your more vulnerable services get compromised, a segmented network will make it harder for attackers to reach other devices.
  • Patch services and devices exposed on the internet. Having the latest version will fix many of the vulnerabilities known to the vendor, and that means attackers have fewer known vulnerabilities they can use to gain access.
  • Turn on multi-factor authentication (MFA) to add an extra layer of security and help prevent unauthorized access.
  • Use logging and alerting to help monitor devices and services, especially any that may be exposed on the internet. These are potential weak points that attackers may target. This can help notify you of an incident and provide details of what has happened.

Don’t risk data breach damage

Data breaches cause business downtime and can cost your reputation and bottom line. Once you’ve had a data breach and it has been made public, your customers may lose faith in your ability to protect their private information.

A managed services provider can install protection and take precautions against data breaches. Contact our team here to discuss this further.

Why do you need to create a Cyber Security policy for your business?

If you own a business, it is important to have a cyber security policy.  This is not only a guide and reference to be used internally with your employees, but also as a reference point to deal with any external data from customers. 

Your Cyber Security policy should be thought of as a moving, changing entity that will need to be updated regularly to keep up with technological advancements, and any changes within your business. 

What does your Cyber Security policy need to cover?

Firstly no two cyber security policies will be the same. Your Cyber Security policy will be unique to your business, depending on your particular type of business, and what kind of data you deal with. 

The first thing you need to do is to identify the particular risks for your business. If you are an accountant for example, your focus is on how you deal with customers’ personal information, bank details, IRD number etc. 

Once you have worked to clarify your specific risks, you can then prepare for what to do if something goes wrong. Your IT Alliance member has knowledge of a wide variety of industries, and will be able to assist you to clarify what you need to be mindful of. 

Having a clear plan in place, means that everyone in your organisation knows what to do, who is responsible for what, and what processes you have in place to mitigate the risks.  

You will also need to create two cyber security policies. One, an internal one for employees, and the second one is a public one for customers. 

What needs to be included in the Policy?

The below information has been taken from the Cert nz website

Cert NZ suggests that you break your internal policy down into different areas.

Data

This should cover how you handle data safely and securely — both your business’s data and your customers’. Think about:

  • how much to collect
  • where you’ll store it (locally or in the cloud)
  • how to protect it, for example keeping data at-rest (when stored) and in-transit (when communicating) encrypted
  • how often you’ll back it up, and who’s responsible for doing backups.

Systems

It’s important to identify what systems you have, and which ones are critical to your work. Consider:

  • setting some rules around updating, or patching, your systems — how to make sure they’re done regularly and who’s responsible for making sure it happens
  • what systems your staff can use, including any cloud applications or software running inside your business’s network
  • how much access your staff need to your systems. You should make sure your staff only have the minimum level of access in each system they need to do their job. This is what’s called the ‘principle of least privilege’.

Security and protection

Security and protection covers how your staff and customers access your systems and data. It means thinking about:

  • how they can access your systems. For example, your staff may want to work remotely. They should do this by using secure tools, like VPN with 2FA.
  • how they authenticate themselves on your system. This includes your password policy and use of two-factor authentication
  • what devices your staff can use at work. This covers whether staff can use personal devices for work, or if you’ll provide devices to them.

People and users

You need to think about what you consider to be acceptable use of your business’s systems. How do you expect your staff and your customers to interact with them? Make sure you set expectations so they know:

  • what their responsibilities are
  • what kind of things they should report to you
  • how you expect them to take ownership of their accounts and their devices.

Physical devices and systems

When you think about protecting your business’s devices and systems, make sure you cover both:

  • protection against loss — if something is stolen, and
  • protection against the environment — for example, if your business is flooded during a storm and your devices are water damaged.

You can set rules around how your staff can protect their devices against theft by defining guidelines for their use. As an example, you could have all staff protect their devices by:

  • having strong passwords on them
  • using device encryption
  • setting rules for them about use outside the office.

Problems and incidents

You’ll need to define what you and your team will do when things go wrong. This means creating an incident response plan to map out what you’ll do during, and after, a security incident. It can be a stressful time for both you and your staff, so it’s good to be prepared in advance.

What next?

We can help you in creating a Cyber Security policy for your business. Reach out to our team here to discuss this further.

What should I be doing to secure my business? 

One of the first things about Security is realizing that security is much more than stopping people “hacking in”. 

It is fundamental to any business to have a business continuity plan (BCP). If you plan for a power outage what happens? Your IT systems will be down.  

Can I use the same plan if an outage occurs to my IT systems and it’s not a power problem?  

Security is the foundation of resilience. 

The hardest part about security is getting started. Often, it’s on the “to do list” until it’s too late.  

Hopefully you have already talked to your IT Alliance partner and had the security business continuity conversation.

If not “What should I do first” is a common question? Rather than recommend one single thing, the answer should be – “Have a plan”  

So, what does your plan need to cover? 

  • Firstly, look at any existing business continuity plan. Is it up to date has it been tested? 
  • Look at not just the worst case but also the best case and know that when an incident occurs it will lie somewhere in
  • Most importantly have a plan, know what to do and who to call. 
  • Understand your risks and apportion the appropriate resources to minimize those risks.
  • Make the plan proactive. Be a fence at the top of the cliff and don’t rely on an ambulance at the bottom. 
  • Prevent rather than recover.
  • Inventory is a crucial starting point of any plan. What equipment do you have? what software do you have? What data do you have?
  • Then look at where are the biggest risks. Is there a single point of failure?

Look at your plan as being a holistic business continuity plan, that is a living document. Continually revisit, update, fire drill, and improve.  

Many of the incidents we see disrupt business are due to poor Cyber hygiene not some advanced nation state hack.  

Do the following to enhance your security: 

  1. Keep the software for your devices and applications up to date.
  2. Access? How do I verify my user is in fact who I think they are? Is MFA (Multi factor authentication) on!!!
  3. What information do I have? Where is it stored? Who has access?
  4. What are my essential services?
  5. What are the financial implications of these risks?
  6. What are my obligations to customers, employees, and shareholders?
  7. If I was breached, how would I know and when?
  8. Am I running Microsoft 365 Business Premium?

Can my staff trust that the Cyber workplace is as safe and secure as possible? If it is, you will see productivity and creativity flourish, staff retention rises as well as the ability to recruit new staff. 

“She’ll be right” –  Is not a plan! “No surprises” is a plan. 

For further advice, contact your local IT Alliance member to discuss creating a plan for your business.  

By Paul Caldwell – Microsoft Security BDM 

Cyber Security is a very real issue for businesses in New Zealand these days. Here we look at Cyber Insurance, what it is, what the laws are, and why you need it.

Why do you need Cyber Insurance?

Cyber attacks on businesses in New Zealand are increasing in both sophistication and frequency. High profile companies like Air New Zealand partner Travelex, Fisher & Paykel Appliances, Toll Group, Garmin, Canon, Honda, BlueScope Steel, Lion, transport giant Toll Group, Twitter, MetService and most recently even the NZX, are just some of the organisations to have been targeted by cyber criminals. However it is not just the big companies, many small businesses are also being targeted. It really is a matter of ‘when not if’.

What is Cyber insurance?

Cyber insurance is designed to fill the gap that traditional insurance policies don’t cover, minimising the impact of cyber incidents by providing cover for your own loss and third party costs. It provides your business with a structured crisis response plan and assists with returning to ‘business as usual’.

  1. Won’t my general liability policy cover cyber liability?

General liability insurance covers bodily injuries and property damage resulting from your products, services or operations. Cyber insurance is often excluded from a general liability policy.

It pays to check your current policies and ask questions. You may find that your other business cover won’t respond to a cyber or data breach claim.

  1. The law has changed

The new Privacy Act 2020 which came into effect on 1 December 2020 means that all businesses now have legal requirements surrounding

The new Act requires mandatory data breach reporting if it’s reasonable to believe that the breach would cause serious harm to an individual. For example: If you’re engaging with a service provider to hold your clients’ personal data, for example a cloud-based CRM system, you remain responsible for the security and use of that personal information. If a Cyber breach were to occur, you would be held liable.

What does Cyber Insurance cover?

Ensuring business continuity and safeguarding your business from Business Interruption will enable you to return to the same financial position you were in before a Cyber event.

The benefits of Cyber Insurance will depend on the type of policy you take out but can include:
– Access to a dedicated and experienced team of experts if an attack occurs
– Protection from loss where you are legally liable to others
– Cover for your financial loss if your business is interrupted due to a Cyber event.

Things to look out for in your Cyber Insurance policy:

  • Business Interruption: Look for a policy that covers the costs of any business interruption as you can lose time and money trying to get your business back up and running after a cyber attack.
  • Hacker Theft Cover: A plan that covers compensation for loss incurred, including theft or destruction of stored data, hardware, or cyber extortion from employees.
  • Restoration costs: Compensation for expenses incurred to research, replace, restore, or recollect digital assets during the period of restoration.
  • Public Relations: Reimbursement for any costs involved with public relations.
  • Network Extortion: Indemnity for the amount paid to avoid, defend, preclude or resolve a network extortion attempt
  • Data Forensic Expenses: Costs incurred to investigate, examine and analyse a computer network
  • Third-Party Liability: Indemnity for the sums claimed and incurred defending claims in relation to alleged privacy breaches, network security wrongful acts or media and social media wrongful acts.

What is the likely cost of Cyber Insurance?

Like most insurance, premiums vary by insurer, the type of cover selected and your risk profile. As an estimate a policy with $100,000 cover could cost as little as $600 per annum.

All businesses need a security plan to protect their business and they should consider a Cyber Insurance policy as an essential part of this plan.

Top tips to avoid cyber security threats:

CERT NZ has a number of useful and practical resources for businesses on keeping systems and data safe from cyber security attacks, including cyber security risk assessments for business, cyber security awareness for staff, phishing scams and your business and protecting your business online.

CERT NZ offers the following tips for simple, practical steps for businesses.

  1. Install software updates
  2. Implement two-factor authentication (2FA)
  3. Back up your data
  4. Set up logs
  5. Create a plan for when things go wrong
  6. Update your default credentials
  7. Choose the right cloud services for your business
  8. Only collect the data you really need
  9. Secure your devices
  10. Secure your network
  11. Manually check financial details

For more info and links click here:

Cyber Security is a very real issue facing business owners these days. If you would like to discuss your individual needs, we provide advice to business owners and security assessments to ensure that your business has the best protection.

Please feel free to reach out to us here.