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Cybersecurity Centre drags NZ to the plate

Full marks to the New Zealand government for officially opening its National Cybersecurity Centre yesterday, which will hopefully help pull New Zealand up to where the rest of the world is in cybersecurity.

Full marks to the New Zealand government for officially opening its National Cybersecurity Centre yesterday, which will hopefully help pull New Zealand up to where the rest of the world is in cybersecurity.

The centre will help government and firms devise strategies to protect their critical infrastructure and information in a world where attacks are becoming ever more frequent.

Not only does the move bring the country in line with best global practice, it should also help cement relations between Australia, New Zealand, the UK, the US and other countries, which are already working together to tackle various forms of cybercrime. New Zealand's related Cybersecurity Strategy also brings it in line with the strategy that Australia recently announced.

Fortunately, New Zealand does not appear on the frontline of the attacks, a "click of a mouse away from war", as Australia's former PM Kevin Rudd articulated last week, but cybercrime is still significant.

Just this month, internet security firm Norton calculated the annual cost of cybercrime in New Zealand as in excess of NZ$600 million per year.

We have seen hackers attack the website of the New Zealand parliament. We have also seen threats made against the New Zealand government over its three-strikes law to prevent piracy. Barely a day passes without some hacking or security threat reported in the media.

Daily, I get invitations to claim various lottery wins, as well as communicate with relatives of foreign royalty wanting to put money in my bank account. Advertise your car online, as I did this week, and you'll attract similar fraudsters wanting your bank details. The internet is a hotbed of crime, and allows all kinds of new opportunities for criminals or worse.

Yet, a 2010 Computercrime and Security Survey (PDF) noted that spending on security in New Zealand was actually falling.

The Cybersecurity Centre, like anything to help educate government, business and the consumers about cybersecurity, can only be encouraged. Maybe it will give us a fighting chance.