Home News & Insights Exploring the Current Cyber Threats facing New Zealand Businesses

Exploring the Current Cyber Threats facing New Zealand Businesses

"We live in a world where the size of your business or organisation doesn't matter when it comes to the risks of cyberattacks."

Israel Reyes, a renowned Cybersecurity Expert. 

The ever-evolving threat landscape is witnessing a surge in sophisticated cyberattacks, and it's crucial for everyone to remain vigilant. Recently, Cert NZ released a report highlighting the alarming increase in cybercrime in New Zealand, emphasising that both small and large businesses are equally susceptible to cyberattacks. In this blog, we’ll delve into the current cyber landscape, explore emerging trends, and uncover the industry's key changes that are fuelling the rise in cyberattacks.

Cyber Landscape

New Zealand faces significant cybersecurity risks due to its unique vulnerabilities. With limited resources and a shortage of skilled technicians, specialists, and analysts, our defences are stretched thin. Furthermore, cyber actors possess highly sophisticated tools, to execute attacks such as ransomware with devastating consequences for the victims. Despite our physical distance from North America and Europe, the cyber space knows no boundaries. It's as if we are right there in New York or London, constantly under the threat of malicious actors who can strike at any moment.

We have witnessed a surge in cyberattacks not only in New Zealand but worldwide, causing immense devastation as they target organisations of all sizes, governments, and more. This highlights our vulnerability and emphasises the importance of being prepared. The complexity of legislation in the realm of cyberspace, combined with the challenges in prosecuting and investigating cyber-crimes committed by individuals in different jurisdictions, further exacerbate the situation. These attacks often originate from distant countries such as North Korea and Iran, where we lack any legislative or law enforcement agreements. Consequently, the risk profile of New Zealand escalates significantly.

Key Changes in the Industry

The tools used by cyber criminals have grown remarkably sophisticated, wielding a range of easily accessible tools found within the depths of the dark web. We are witnessing the adoption of Artificial Intelligence to specifically target organisations with ransomware attacks. This poses a significant challenge, especially for small or mid-size organisations with limited resources, as they cannot afford to hire dedicated specialists or analysts. As a result, they are left at risk. On the other hand, these cyber criminals operate with substantial financial backing, advanced tools, and a network of support. They deliberately orchestrate ransomware attacks to exploit vulnerabilities of these smaller corporations or organisations. Unfortunately, the threat actors possess highly effective tools, while the good guys, the mid-size organisations, lack the necessary means to protect themselves against these cyber criminals.

In today's challenging global landscape, marked by economic recessions and ongoing conflicts in various regions, we are witnessing a concerning rise in cybercrime and illicit activities. As the economy falters, unemployment rates soar, creating an enticing opportunity for individuals to turn to hacking and cyberattacks to secure financial gain. This is a trend we have observed not only in the United States but also worldwide, where the aftermath of the pandemic has further heightened the prevalence of cybercriminals seeking financial benefits.

Current Trends

As technology advances, the threat of cyberattacks looms over businesses of all sizes, including government entities. One particular form of attack that is on the rise is ransomware, due to its ease of execution. Cybercriminals can operate from anywhere in the world, using phishing emails to lure unsuspecting victims. With a simple click, your entire business could be compromised. These malicious emails can lead you to a server where remote code is executed, granting the cybercriminal access to your infrastructure. They can then encrypt your data and demand a hefty ransom to release it. Unfortunately, even if you pay, there's no guarantee your data will be restored. Dealing with criminals is a dangerous path to take, as trust cannot be placed in their hands.

The Importance of Security in the Digital Age

Recently, a company fell victim to a cyberattack that targeted their financial team as they were processing payments. In a matter of minutes, they noticed a staggering amount of money - $1 million USD - vanishing from their account. Despite thoroughly reviewing their payments and accounts, they couldn't find any trace of where the funds had gone. Taking swift action, they immediately suspended their activities, changed their passwords, and contacted the bank for assistance. It was discovered that several months prior, a malicious actor had infiltrated one of their financial system's computers, allowing them to meticulously monitor and redirect payments to an external account located overseas. In just five minutes, the company suffered a devastating loss of $1 million USD.

When they brought the computer to the bank to investigate the situation, the bank quickly clarified that they were not responsible for the incident as their systems had not been breached. Instead, it was the customer's computer that had been hacked. Due to the presence of a malicious code that had infected the computer about three months ago, the bank was legally exempt from any liability. This highlights the vulnerability of small or mid-sized businesses, which can easily fall victim to cyberattacks. With just a single click on a harmful link, a hacker or malicious actor can gain access to the system, leaving the business defenceless and unaware of the ongoing attack. It is crucial to educate all employees with access to the business infrastructure on what actions to avoid and how to respond if they observe anything unusual. By implementing a comprehensive security policy, effective processes and procedures, and an incident response plan, businesses have a better chance of minimising the impact of a cyberattack. 

Smaller Businesses Face an Equal Level of Risk as Larger Businesses When it Comes to Cybersecurity

The unfortunate reality is that smaller businesses often lack the financial resources to hire cybersecurity experts or specialists, leaving them susceptible to cyberattacks. Cyber criminals are well aware of this and take advantage of the situation. If they successfully breach your financial system, they have a higher chance of receiving payment or ransom. This can be devastating for small businesses, as they may never recover and could potentially face bankruptcy. The loss of funds can be crippling, especially if the bank does not have any legal liability. Without proper insurance or protection, your entire business could be at risk of going bankrupt.

Watch Part One of our interview with Cybersecurity expert Israel Reyes.

Concerned about the possibility of a cyberattack? Reach out to us today to discover how Sharp's cutting-edge products and solutions offer proactive security measures to protect your business from cyber threats.