Kiwis are becoming more concerned about how companies protect their personal information online - but not enough to effect big businesses.

Colmar Brunton's Better Futures survey this week revealed 62 per cent of respondents identified "protection of my personal data online" as a major concern – the first time it's been featured as a top 10 overall concern in the survey's history.

Aura Information Security general manager Peter Bailey said big data hacks against companies such as Facebook and Uber were causing customers to wake up to the risk they faced giving their information to businesses.

Ten years ago, people weren't aware they could fall victim, he said.


"You thought it will affect big businesses and it might affect one or two people who do silly things, but actually it's not going to affect me."

Aura Information Security general manager Peter Bailey thinks more major data leaks are on the way. Photo / Supplied
Aura Information Security general manager Peter Bailey thinks more major data leaks are on the way. Photo / Supplied

As more individuals are victimised by more increasingly sophisticated scams, Kiwis are coming to realise how important data security is.

But while 90 per cent of respondents said if they heard about a company being unethical, they would stop buying their products or services, this was not having much effect on bigger businesses.

Bailey said some of these companies were more "integrated" into society, so while customers did not trust them as much, it did not change their decision to use that service.

"It's such a big part of how society works they don't seem to lose traction in the market," he said.

"People seem to feel it's too hard to go somewhere else."

Smaller companies could find themselves losing business though if they didn't adequately protect their customers' data.

Depending on the type of data lost in a hack - which can include email addresses, banking details, contact details, addresses, and more - victims could be exposed to more phishing attempts or even have their finances affected.


This meant it was important for companies to make sure they acted responsibly with that information.

Despite Kiwis becoming more switched on to the risks, Bailey believed there would still be more major leaks this year.

"I think we're just seeing that for hackers, there's so much money in this and it's become such a profitable business, that they're doing it more and more, putting a lot of investment into their own criminal organisations," he said.

While giving security talks to clients last year, Bailey regularly updated his presentation slides to include the latest big leak. He found he was updating the slides once or twice a month, and believes attacks will continue with strength into 2019.

"Companies and organisations are really struggling to figure out how to stop it from happening," he said.

"They're just not thinking about all the gaps."

Traditionally the weakest link in a company's cyber defences is its staff falling victim to phone or email scams.

The second big gap was forgetting to update software. Companies could be running applications or programmes with known issues that hackers can exploit.

One of the easiest ways to protect against attacks was to update software, Bailey said.

It was also important for businesses to sort out their "basic hygiene", including making sure passwords were strong and staff were aware of what scams looked like.