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Kiwis report highest quarterly cyber crime financial loss

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Te Whanganui-a-Tara – The final quarter of 2021 was marked by a 92 percent increase in reports to CERT NZ and the highest quarterly financial loss recorded since CERT NZ’s inception in 2017.

New Zealanders reported losses of $6.6 million to CERT NZ in the fourth quarter, with the highest amounts of direct financial loss in the scams and fraud category.

Roughly a third of that ($2.3million) came from scams relating to buying, selling or donating online. Other scams added up to an extra $3.6million.

The usual top category – phishing and credential harvesting – also saw higher levels of reporting with a 28 percent increase, while scams and fraud jumped up to 16 percent.

The continuation of the Flubot scam text campaign, which sends fake courier delivery messages, contributed to the highest reporting levels seen in a single quarter.

CERT NZ received 1107 reports on Flubot alone, pushing the malware category up 1030 percent.

CERT NZ director Rob Pope says that high reporting numbers are a double-edged sword. On the one hand, more reports means that more incidents are occurring, but it also means New Zealanders are aware of the steps to take when they encounter cybercrime.

This also gives CERT a greater understanding of the extent and type of incidents that are occurring. Pope was encouraged individuals and businesses are more willing to report and he hopes the messages about being cyber smart continue to spread.

In total, CERT NZ released 32 advisories to the public over 2021 and received 64 reports on software vulnerabilities.

Vigilance is the key word. He wants New Zealanders to be aware scammers are out there and to be careful with their personal information, especially around financial data.

Passwords must be strong and don’t trust any sites that are too good to be true.

In 2021, 8,831 incidents were reported to CERT NZ, a 13 percent increase on 2020. Individuals, small businesses and large organisations from all over New Zealand submitted incident reports

CERT NZ is New Zealand’s computer emergency response team and it works to support businesses, organisations and individuals who are or may be affected by cyber security incidents.