In the age of cybersecurity, New Zealand needs a coordinated plan

Melissa Lee

Melissa Lee

Wellington, November 11, 2021

Cyber Smart Week – Did the government do enough?

I know I write a lot on the issues of cybersecurity and data protection in New Zealand, as one of National’s cybersecurity representatives for Parliament and because of the significant lengths of time many of us have been forced to work in less cyber resilient environments from home workplaces I believe this is a vital issue  for New Zealanders.

Two weeks ago, Kiwis across New Zealand regardless of their Covid-19 alert levels were asked to be a part of Cyber Smart Week. Many workplaces participated in this initiative led by the Government. Cyber Smart Week being a chance for businesses, families and indeed anyone to learn more about staying safe online whether in social media chat groups, identifying scams or doing business online.

I reached out through the primary democratic tool of Opposition, the Written Parliamentary Question to find out what actually each Minister, crown entities and government department did for cyber smart week and I was a bit surprised at the results.

While many entities took the opportunity to refresh their employee cyber awareness, run training days and teach the importance of cybersecurity in protecting the personal information of taxpayers and of course the national security of New Zealand, a good number did not run any campaigns, or initiatives around this significant occasion, not even a poster on the wall or an email to their internal intranet.

Here’s a selection:
Reply 48732 (2021) has been answered
Portfolio: Emergency Management (Kiritapu Allan)
Question: What specific Cyber Smart Week events, initiatives or activities if any, were undertaken by the Minister’s reporting departments, Crown entities and organisations?
Reply: In my capacity as Minister for Emergency Management I can confirm that the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), a departmental agency within the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet did not undertake any specific initiatives or activities associated with Cyber Smart Week. NEMA takes security very seriously and provides its staff with information throughout the year on security and cyber security to help maintain a safe and secure operating environment.
Reply 48723 (2021) has been answered
Portfolio: Environment (Associate – Kiritapu Allan)
Question: What specific Cyber Smart Week events, initiatives or activities if any, were undertaken by the Minister’s reporting departments, Crown entities and organisations?
Reply: The Ministry for Environment did not carry out any specific Cyber Smart event, initiatives or activities this year however, MfE does deliver regular cybersecurity awareness activities throughout the course of the year and has participated in Cyber Smart week in previous years.
Reply 48900 (2021) has been answered
Portfolio: Statistics (Dr David Clark)
Question: What specific Cyber Smart Week events, initiatives or activities if any, were undertaken by the Minister’s reporting departments, Crown entities and organisations?
Reply: Stats New Zealand did not carry out any specific events, initiatives or activities in recognition of Cyber Smart Week (18-24 October 2021). Stats NZ take cyber security seriously and continually consider matters relating to cyber security and privacy.

I really hope these entities mean it when they say they take cybersecurity privacy seriously because bluntly, they could be the next ransomware target, their staff could be the next to let in a data exploitation event and cripple IT infrastructure.

We really need a coordinated all of government plan to cybersecurity and that includes cybersecurity education for the future of the New Zealand digital sector and for all the amazing technological opportunities ahead in our Kiwi economy.

Do you agree?

Melissa Lee is a Member of Parliament on National Party List and the Party’s Spokesperson for Broadcasting & Media, Digital Economy and Communications and Ethnic Communities

 

 

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