New Zealand will join an international network of agencies fighting cyber crime and cyber attacks on businesses and infrastructure, the government announced Thursday.
Prime Minister John Key said the government was investing 22.2 million NZ dollars (15.31 million U.S. dollars) to establish a national Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT) to defend businesses and infrastructure against cyber-attacks.
"Our increasing reliance on networked devices and new technology is matched by the growing problem of cyber security threats," Key said in a published speech to the country's first Cyber Security Summit of business leaders.
"And while we've worked hard to build a productive and competitive economy, cyber-attacks can bring it to a screaming halt -- or worse, bring it crashing down."
More than 856,000 New Zealanders are affected by cybercrime each year and the cost of cybercrime was estimated at 257 million NZ dollars (177.25 million U.S. dollars) last year.
"While we are yet to experience a full-scale cyber incident like we've seen offshore, New Zealand is not immune to them," said Key.
"In New Zealand we are dealing with state-sponsored espionage by foreign countries and organised criminal groups. We're attacked by extremists and terrorists, and issue-motivated activists. Others include lone cyber hackers and disgruntled insiders. There are multiple kinds of threats and cyber harms."
The attacks required a comprehensive and coordinated response and the CERT would be a central part of New Zealand's cyber security architecture after it began operations in the first quarter of 2017.
"It will be a focal point for the collection of reports about cyber security incidents and cybercrime," said Key.
Communications Minister Amy Adams said in a statement that CERTs worked closely with their international counterparts to prevent and respond to cybersecurity incidents, and address cybercrime.
"Establishing a national CERT means New Zealand joins an international network of CERTs, improving our access to information on potential or real-time cyber-attacks. It will help us play our part in a global effort to improve internet security," said Adams.