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​Cost of cyber attacks smash $300 billion mark, yet NZ businesses still don’t care

“IT privacy and security should be at the top of the agenda for all organisations."

Cyber attacks are taking a serious toll on business, with the total cost of attacks globally estimated to be at least US$315 billion over the past 12 months.

But perhaps crucially, new research from Grant Thornton International’s Business Report (IBR) survey reveals that in New Zealand, only 26 percent of respondents surveyed see cyber attacks as a threat in their sector.

In addition, 50 percent have a person specifically tasked with cyber-security while 62 percent didn’t have an IT privacy and security strategy in place.

“High profile security breaches are becoming more common and without a comprehensive strategy to prevent digital crime, businesses are really putting themselves in the firing line,” says Hamish Bowen, Partner, Operational Advisory, Grant Thornton New Zealand.

“And it’s not just financial risks that businesses need to be worried about, there can be a high price to pay in terms of reputational damage as well - just look at Ashley Madison and Sony.

“IT privacy and security should be at the top of the agenda for all organisations. It’s no longer a question of if your business will come under attack, but when.”

Bowen says that New Zealand’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) saw an increase of more than 60 percent in reported incidents in 2013.

“The NCSC’s 2014 and 2015 incident reports haven’t been released yet, but I’m sure we’ll see an increase in that figure for the past two years based on what’s happening in the current environment,” he adds.

According to the Grant Thornton IBR, cyber-attacks are estimated to have cost Asia Pacific businesses $81 billion in the past 12 months, while firms in the EU ($62 billion) and North America ($61 billion) are also counting the significant cost of attacks.