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Small Kiwi businesses cut cybersecurity spend despite rising threats
Thu, 2nd Nov 2023

New research commissioned by Mastercard reveals that up to 132,000 small businesses in New Zealand have faced cybersecurity issues. However, due to mounting cost pressures, they have had to reduce their cybersecurity expenditure. This troubling fact comes amid a rise in reported cybercrimes.

Due to financial constraints and a focus on revenue-generating activities such as customer acquisition, improving client relationships, and growth, cybersecurity has been relegated to a low-priority status with only 18% of small businesses giving it importance. Despite more than half (51%) of the business owners admitting to being anxious about cyberattacks, 54% believe that investing in cybersecurity is too expensive.

In fact, the research highlights cost as the most significant obstacle to small businesses exploring cybersecurity options, followed by lack of knowledge about the available solutions, potential threats, and necessary resources. Approximately 67% of small business owners say they would be more inclined to introduce security measures if they fully understood the cyber risks involved, while 65% express a need for simple cybersecurity resources to get started.

In response to these findings, Mastercard, in partnership with 17-year-old ethical hacker, Jackson Henry, has created 'Cyber Secure in 60 Seconds'. This ten-part series provides simple, inexpensive, and actionable steps for protecting small businesses. Jackson, who skillfully accessed 100,000 employee records at the United Nations amongst other achievements, offers his expertise to aid small businesses in New Zealand and worldwide in understanding the commonplace cybersecurity vulnerabilities.

On this initiative, Jackson Henry said, "I've worked with businesses of all sizes, all around the world, and the pitfalls are relatively similar across the board. However, for small businesses, they often don't know where to start, and lack the time, resources and budget of larger organisations, making it difficult for them to upskill in an area which is table stakes for businesses big and small."

'Cyber Secure in 60 Seconds' tackles ten of the most common vulnerabilities that cyber criminals could exploit along with clear, cost-effective and achievable solutions for business owners on how to defend against them. The measures include training employees, using strong unique passwords, implementing multi-factor authentication, regular software updates, employing anti-virus software, limiting access rights, securely and regularly backing up data, exercising caution against phishing, enhancing email filtering and developing a cybersecurity policy and incident response plan.

Ruth Riviere, Country Manager for New Zealand and Pacific Islands at Mastercard, commented, "Small businesses are the backbone of our communities here in New Zealand, but as they continue to focus on post-pandemic recovery and growth, tackling cybersecurity may often feel like a big fish to fry. Mastercard is committed to arming small business owners with the tools and knowledge they need to keep themselves and their customers safe and protected. The data reinforces the urgent need for business owners in Aotearoa to upskill and educate themselves and their staff, and as an ethical hacker Jackson brings a unique and impactful perspective to tackling the issue."

To underline the importance of small business owners educating themselves on cyber security, Henry worked with a small business showcasing how a rogue actor might attempt to infiltrate their systems. He highlighted three significant flaws in their security protocol and stated, "As a cake shop, my business is relatively low risk when it comes to cyber-attacks, but it was a real eye-opener to see the gaps in our defences that I would have otherwise had no idea existed."

Mastercard continues to protect small businesses, both in New Zealand and globally, against payment fraud, ensuring safer transactions for merchants and their customers.