PUBLISHED November 2020

New Zealand SMEs armed with vital tool in fight against cyber crime

As instances of phishing, fraud and unauthorised access by cyber criminals become increasingly more commonplace in New Zealand, a newly-launched tool is assisting small and medium businesses around the country with a way to fight back, with free access to a cyber security rating that shows how secure – or not secure – their operations are, at any given point in time.

NZI cyber insurance specialist Andrew Beven says NZI is offering a first-of-its-kind tool  through a partnership between IAG (NZI is part of IAG - New Zealand’s largest general insurer) and international cyber security leader UpGuard, to ensure that small and medium businesses around the country are not padlocking their cyber front doors, while accidentally leaving their back doors unlocked and wide open.

“Local businesses have been transitioning to online with great vigour over the last few years, but with COVID-19, we are seeing that businesses are having to transition very quickly and unexpectedly to online platforms for business continuation, meaning more businesses than ever are susceptible.”

New Zealand’s Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT) has reported that incidents were up 38% between 2018 and 2019, with the top three attacks being phishing and credential harvesting, scams and fraud, and unauthorised access.

Mr Beven says, “it is imperative they treat their cyber security with the same seriousness as they would their shopfront security. It is not an option for businesses to do nothing and gamble on being safe. It’s important they get on the phone to their broker as soon as possible to gain access to the tool.”

The partnership helps users identify and prepare for cyber risk through two steps:

-       Cyber assurance: a free cyber safety risk technical assessment that provides a cyber risk vulnerability score, identifies potential risks and vulnerabilities with by insights and steps to help the small business customer mitigate these risks.

-       Cyber insurance: to protect the customer’s data against the unexpected – like a cyber risk incident or data breach.

Once activated, the ‘Always On’ technology behind UpGuard continually scans the customer’s internet presence for vulnerabilities, so that at any point in time it is able to give an accurate reading of its overall cyber risk.

The ‘Always On’ factor means that, unlike other similar offerings that are clunky and often have a manual component, UpGuard is automated and constantly monitoring.

The tool is normally only accessible by big business and it was a natural choice for the insurer to partner with UpGuard for small and medium businesses.

“Insurance isn’t just about remedying after the fact – we actively invest in tools that help our customers to better protect themselves before cyber attacks become an issue, which is always preferable to remedying after the fact.

Being able to generate a score at any point gives greater transparency over the likely risks, and therefore makes cover decisions much clearer and in line with those risks.”

Vice President of Cyber Research for UpGuard, Greg Pollock says their 2020 analysis of the New Zealand market shows that the finance, retail, and logistics industries have the lowest security ratings and are therefore more likely to experience a security incident such as a data leak.

“The silver lining is that, when a company is made aware of a vulnerability, most of the time, it will take immediate action to address that. That tells us that the gap between cyber protection and vulnerability is whether or not the business is aware – and that’s where we step in,” says Mr Pollock.

Businesses should speak with their broker for advice on the appropriate NZI cyber cover.