New Zealand businesses and organisations are struggling to protect themselves from cyber attacks because of a shortage of IT professionals, Communications Minister Amy Adams says.

"There is a growing global shortage of cyber security professionals. It's estimated that there will be a global workforce shortfall of between one to two million positions by 2019," Adams said today.

"This shortage is limiting the ability of organisations to protect themselves from the increasing threat of cyber attacks. New Zealand is competing for talent in a global market."

To try to get New Zealand to create its own talent, the Government has established a "cyber security skills taskforce" to address the shortage of suitably qualified IT professionals.

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Some universities already run cybersecurity degrees and postgraduate courses, but the taskforce will establish a new pathway for junior analysts.

That will include a Level 6 qualification and industry-supported internships from next year.

Adams said cyber-attacks cost the economy $257m last year.

The eight-person taskforce will be led by David Eaton, the chief technology officer at Hewlett Packard Enterprises.

Other members include Jo Healey, chief executive of Dimension Data, Brent Lewis, principal of Auckland's Avondale College, Dr Ryan Ko, head of the cybersecurity programme at Waikato University, and Dr Rick Ede, chief executive of Unitec.