In browsing through countless streams of media articles and reports, watching from afar as businesses across the world succumb to scams and attacks, New Zealand has always maintained a refreshing sense of distance.
Protected by geography, the Kiwi stance on security has been clear for many years - “it’ll never happen to us”.
But as the world becomes better connected and integrated through technology, New Zealand’s previous isolation is eroding, exposing businesses to the world’s most sophisticated malware breaches.
“Malware is an organised criminal machine,” says Kent Shuart, Product Marketing Manager, Dell SonicWALL.
“It’s organised from the standpoint of state sponsorship, great pricing models, technical support and even tutorials.”
“But despite the rise of targeted breaches, the shotgun approach still applies, which covers the entire market in New Zealand.”
For the art of locking businesses out of computers and operating systems in a bid to extort money is growing in popularity, as the underbelly of the industry holds the market to ransom.
Extortion may be one of the oldest tricks in the criminal bag, but Shuart warns that the global menace is no longer confined to the boardrooms of America, reaching New Zealand in malicious proportions.
With SMBs considered the backbone of the New Zealand economy, over 460,000 businesses with less than 20 staff currently operate across the country, opportunities are rife to secure a market currently vulnerable to attack.
While the headline breaches of the past 12 months point to the big end of town - think Target and Home Depot - in reality, security attacks are arriving on Kiwi shores.
“Kiwi businesses believe they are too small and insignificant to be targeted, and while that may be true today, it might not be tomorrow,” says Shuart.
Fresh from addressing Kiwi partners in jam-packed Auckland and Wellington events, the security expert believes that as the need for greater protection deepens, the opportunity for the channel rises in parallel.
Delving deeper, Sandeep Joshi, General Manager of Dell SonicWALL Australia and New Zealand, believes the consequence of such inaction is far greater than before.
Quick to step away from the common security rhetoric however, Joshi accepts that while 97 percent of New Zealand businesses may continue to enjoy a life of anonymity in a security sense, the risk of failure is growing.
“Ransomware can hold your business hostage,” he explains. “While large organisations can perhaps afford to take the hit and pay up to attackers, SMBs can’t afford to go down this path.
“A $20,000 ransomware request will not make a dent in the enterprise, but for SMBs in New Zealand, that could be the final nail in the coffin."
“The big guys can bounce back but research shows that when SMBs suffer breaches, they encounter a 50 percent chance of going out of business within six months.”
In New Zealand, Joshi says SMBs lack the resources, the security and the multi-layer defence programs to ensure greater protection, with the problem escalating from the North to South Island.
As a 100 percent channel-focused organisation, Joshi says the opportunity for SonicWALL partners in New Zealand is rising, creating new areas of opportunity to gain market traction through an untapped market.
“We’re not here to tell you about our red, green or blue boxes,” he admits. “We’re here to tell you about what is happening in the world and crucially, what is coming to New Zealand.”
“There’s real potential for our partners to tap into the SMB market, providing tailored security solutions that meet the demands of this changing world.”
With New Zealand representing the fastest growing area of business for SonicWALL across the region, Joshi says resellers are well placed to capitalise on SMBs needs.
“It’s a confusing market with lots of messaging,” he admits. “We have a broad spectrum of security products and knowledge, capable of securing businesses irrespective of their issues.”
“Our complimentary training programs in New Zealand are what sets us apart as a security vendor. They are booked out for the next six months and that’s deliberate because we want to up-skill and train our partners, ensuring they are certified and well equipped to handle the new threats in the market.”
“We have a responsibility to educate our partners because they know we have the right technology, but they require help to execute and make it happen. That’s our ongoing commitment to the Kiwi channel.”
Going forward, Joshi says SonicWALL plans to “broaden and deepen” its channel base in New Zealand, warning partners that despite common misconceptions, isolation offers no defence for vulnerable SMBs.