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Bill Bennett


New Zealand’s data security cultural cringe

A Unisys Security Index report shows New Zealanders have less faith in security when organisations store data in the country than when they store it overseas.

Unisys says 11 percent of New Zealanders are more concerned about accidental data breaches when companies store data in the country. This compares with only five percent who worry about breaches when the data is stored overseas.

You can read the number as a no confidence vote in local companies and government departments. It is also bad news for local cloud vendors.

John Kendall, security program director for Unisys Asia-Pacific, says to a degree the lack of faith in local data security is because of many accidental breaches in New Zealand including two at the Earthquake Commission.

Data security relies on perception

Perception is important. Few people know where organisations store their data. While most New Zealand government organisations do store data in the country, there’s nothing to say Earthquake Commission data would not have leaked if the information was hosted on an Amazon server in the USA.

And that means there’s a case for companies to communicate more about their data security policies and practices.

Kendall says that’s difficult: “The public wants to know it is protected, but how much should an organisation talk about this in public?” There’s a danger that saying too much will aid criminals and others wanting to get at private data.

On the other hand he says some organisations are now using their measures to protect user data as a selling point. He says disclosing this information is a way of building confidence.

The flip side is that governments want to do more online — it’s cheaper. And yet they often find online services don’t get the uptake they expect with many users preferring to interaction in manual ways due to what he calls ‘lingering concerns’.




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