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INTERNET SECURITY BREACHES A SIGNIFICANT COST TO BUSINESSES

Source: New Zealand Herald

Posted on December 15, 2005

      Internet security breaches are costing New Zealand businesses between $140 million and $240 million a year, a survey has found.

      The Employers and Manufacturers Association (Northern) survey also found fewer companies are protecting their computer systems.

      About half of the 528 businesses which responded to the survey said rework, repairs and lost business cost them between $500 and $10,000 - the equivalent of up to $240 million if applied nationwide.

      Yet despite these costs, the association said firms were "lagging" in their installation and maintenance of security systems.

      Investment in IT remained relatively static compared with last year, with 51.2 per cent of respondents spending less than $19,000 a year. Similarly, the amount of IT budget spent on security remained constant with 55.8 per cent of firms spending 5 per cent or less.

      However, association communications manager Gilbert Peterson said investment in security was not keeping pace with a growing online risk.

      "Twenty-one months ago, the top security concerns were limited to viruses, hackers and spam," Peterson said. "Now the list includes Trojans, worms, spyware and email scams such as phishing and others."

      Peterson also described as "disturbing" a fall in the number of firms automatically updating their security systems from 90.3 per cent in 2004 to 75.2 per cent this year.

      "If these systems products are not regularly updated, there is little point in having them," he said.

      The survey found smaller companies were more active in protecting themselves than larger firms; 91 per cent of companies employing 20 people or fewer had antivirus software installed compared with 84 per cent of companies employing more than 20 people.

      Small companies also compared well when it came to deploying anti-spyware at 55 per cent compared with 49 per cent of large firms.

      The survey also showed that although more companies were giving staff access to the internet, training in safe practice had dropped from 67.2 per cent last year to 55.9 per cent.

      Peterson said the association would use the study to promote security issues within its membership.




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