4 min read

Call for firmer data leak action

Kordia's annual survey finds businesses are losing patience with poor data protection, Spark wants email customers to pay for the service, Mobile World Congress looks at 5G evolution.
Kordia cybersecurity.

Business calls for tougher data leak penalties

Kordia's annual survey of large company attitudes to online crime shows most want to see stiffer penalties for businesses who fail to protect customer data.

The government-owned communications business turned cybersecurity specialist says 51 per cent of respondents are in favour of bigger fines.

That's significant because the companies calling for harsher treatment of leaks are likely to be on the receiving end of any official tough love.

Kordia's cybersecurity survey covers companies with at least 100 computer users, which typically means the business is large enough to have in-house technology professionals.

New Zealand a data leak outlier

New Zealand is something of an outlier when it comes to treatment of data breaches. Unlike elsewhere in the world, it is not an offence to suffer a data breach even if it was the result of negligence.

Companies can be fined a maximum of $10,000 if they fail to notify the Privacy Commissioner of an incident that may have caused serious harm. It's barely a slap on the wrist by international standards.

Cyber attacks are now commonplace. Kordia found that more than two thirds (69 per cent) of companies say they experienced an attack. Roughly half of them (46 per cent) took more than a month to resolve.

Most business would pay ransom

New Zealand's businesses are comfortable with the idea of paying a ransom, with 70 per cent saying they'd consider it. That's despite official advice to not pay demands and warnings that the ransomers are criminals and there is no guarantee they will honour a payment.

The other revelation in Kordia's research is the growing number of attacks related to cloud computing. The company said cloud focused attacks were up 11 per cent last year. They now make up two out of every five incidents.

Spark to charge for Xtra email accounts

Spark plans to charge everyone for Xtra email accounts from May. For years the service was free to the company's broadband and customers. Non-customers were asked to pay $6 a month.

An information page at the company website says the cost of running the service has "increased significantly". The new charges are $6 a month for Spark broadband, post paid mobile and landline customers. Everyone else will be charged $10.

Other changes scheduled for May include a drop in the number of email in-boxes a customer can use. From May they will be limited to five. Spark says that from May the service will be hosted at a Microsoft Azure data centre in Australia.

Xtra Mail has been a thorn in Spark's side over the years. The company had a problematic ten year partnership with Yahoo which it dropped in 2017. See After ten years of mail pain, Spark dumps Yahoo.

There are free alternatives for Spark customers, most notably Gmail. Microsoft and Apple also both offer services to their customers. Many people choose to avoid email and use a service like Facebook Messenger. All of these come with some baggage.

MWC considers next generation phone technology

New Zealand's telcos have only recently finished rolling out their 5G mobile networks, but last week at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, the industry was talking about 5.5G or, depending on who you are, 5G Advanced.

In theory 5G advanced will allow more advanced mobile applications. But in practice, plain old 5G is enough for most user applications and it's hard to find an everyday app that doesn't work fine with 4G.

If anything, the more pressing update is a move to 5G Standalone. Moving from 4G to 5G meant faster data speeds and lower latency. It meant networks could carry more capacity and improve fixed wireless performance. Yet the first iteration of 5G was overlaid on a network core built for 4G.

Standalone first

5G Standalone upgrades that core. It means carriers can finally offer all the benefits they have been talking about since the idea of 5G was introduced. This includes network slicing and other enterprise friendly features that pass everyday users by.

Perhaps the one area where 5G advanced will make a difference for everyday users is virtual reality.

VR headsets like Apple's Vision Pro and Meta's Quest headset need a lot of bandwidth and the lowest possible latency. Realistically there's not much content at present and the price of VR is prohibitive for most users. Yet that could all change by the time 5G Advanced rolls out.

Fastest growth

While 5G shows the fastest ever growth for a mobile technology, it won't account for half of all connections worldwide until 2029 according to figures from GSMA Intelligence.

The same research shows 5G has not yet gained significant traction with enterprise customers. The industry believes this will change when 5G Advanced arrives, but there's no compelling evidence to support the claim.

If you have insight into this or any other story in today's newsletter, a comments option is open to all subscribers at the bottom on this page.

Facebook pulls the plug on Australian media bargaining

I'm on RNZ Nine-to-Noon talking about Facebook pulling media bargaining deals with Australian publishers and putting it into context with what's happening in New Zealand's media sector. Also on the show we briefly talk about Apple's record European fine and Kordia's cybersecurity research.

In other news...

Excellent reporting at Newsroom where Jonathan Milne writes: Tech giant Amazon’s $7.5b NZ data centre plan quietly put on hold.

AWS made a lot of noise about those plans when they were announced. The project was held up as an example of incoming investment and won the company a level of government approval that local cloud providers never saw.

The European Commission fines Apple €1.8. billion over restrictive App Store conditions for music streaming providers. Apple has since changed its practices for European customers, but not the rest of the world.

The driverless Western Sydney Metro is buying a secure backbone network from Nokia and Siemens Mobility,

Hawaiki cable owner BW Digital is building an 80MW data centre on Batam, the Indonesian island city close to Singapore.

At the ITP Techblog Peter Griffin writes: "Most people involved in the media industry expected news outlets to take a haircut in 2024. But they didn’t anticipate the number one all-over buzzcut Warner Bros Discovery has proposed giving its Newshub operation". It's a crisis that Griffin says shows the structural problem media.

The Download Weekly is supported by Chorus New Zealand.