Data suggests Kiwis becoming smarter online
The latest data report from CERT NZ suggests that New Zealanders may be becoming more vigilant online following a significant increase in reports of cyber security incidents during the first half of 2020.
CERT NZ received a total of 3,102 incident reports between January 1 and 30 June 30, which is a 42 per cent increase on the same period last year.
In April alone 820 incident reports were received, the greatest number of reports CERT NZ has received in any one month since it was established in 2017.
While the total financial loss for the six-month period was $7.8m, the loss was significantly lower in Quarter 2 at $1.8m compared to $6m in Quarter 1.
“Although Covid-19 created opportunities for cyber attackers, the majority of incidents reported to us were not specifically about the pandemic,” says CERT NZ Director Rob Pope.
“The increase on reporting and reduction in financial loss could mean that New Zealanders are developing a heightened awareness of cyber security threats as we’ve become more dependent on digital services.”
There was, however, a significant spike in scam and fraud reports during Quarter 2, with a 229 per cent increase in this type of incident reported from Quarter 1.
For instance, 487 reports were about webcam email extortion scams in Quarter 2, up from just 34 reports in Quarter 1. This is either due to more attackers taking advantage of the Covid-19 environment, or more people being vigilant to these types of scam.
These types of campaigns involve a scammer claiming to access a person’s device and webcam through an old password, and then recording the person allegedly visiting an adult website. In reality, the scammer acquires the password from a data leak posted online and pretends they have access to someone’s computer in order to blackmail an individual.
Fortunately the increase in these types of scams did not lead to significant financial loss suggesting that New Zealanders are being more alert to these scams, possibly in part due to awareness campaigns delivered by CERT NZ and Consumer Protection.
“It’s really important to maintain cyber smart habits. As we increasingly spend more of our lives online, attackers are constantly developing new and more sophisticated campaigns,” says Mr Pope.
“There’s lots of practical advice and information on the CERT NZ website about how both individuals and businesses can stay safe online, and it’s worthwhile finding out how you can build your cyber defences.
“The data we gather from these reports and others is vital in helping us understand the evolving threat landscape. The more we know about the types of incidents affecting New Zealanders, the more we can help New Zealanders and their businesses stay safe online.”
If you or your organisation experiences a cyber security incident contact CERT NZ any time at www.cert.govt.nz or call 0800 CERT NZ, Monday to Friday, 7am – 7pm.
You can find the full Quarterly Report on CERT NZ’s website here.