Claire Trevett is the New Zealand Herald’s deputy political editor.

NZ election an unlikely hacking target - English

Bill English meets European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker in Brussels. Photo / Claire Trevett
Bill English meets European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker in Brussels. Photo / Claire Trevett

Prime Minister Bill English says it was possible but unlikely that cyber hacking would be an issue during New Zealand's election this year because it was hard to see why anyone would bother.

English has been in Europe as the unfolding saga of alleged Russian hacking during the US election campaign has played out and governments in Europe, such as France and Germany, have voiced concern about hacking during their elections this year.

Asked if he was concerned it could happen in New Zealand's election, English said it was possible.

"Just why someone would want to interfere with our elections, it would be hard to imagine."

Asked if Russia spied on New Zealand, he said he did not know.

"One of New Zealand's benefits is because we are a long way away and fairly small we don't attract too much attention.

But we always have to be vigilant to keep the risks low in New Zealand and to make sure we've got the capability to protect New Zealanders when we can when they're away from home."

He said despite that, cyber security was important to protect business, government processes and privacy, and the Government had invested significantly in boosting cyber security in recent years.

"We haven't been concerned for particular reasons around elections, but just for the ongoing conduct of Government and private businesses, many of whom can't afford the high level of technology that is now required to protect your systems, and we are also concerned to protect our utility systems as well."

He said being a member of the Five Eyes spy group meant New Zealand benefited from others' expertise as well.

- NZ Herald

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