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Record losses to cybercrime a concern, reports decline

cyberemonade NZ

Te Whanganui-a-Tara – Scammers are still finding new ways of getting to people’s money, CERT NZ’s latest annual report shows.

While reports were down slightly on the previous year, financial losses jumped up 19 percent to $20 million, mostly due to a spike in quarter three. These are the biggest losses reported to CERT NZ in a single year.

CERT NZ director Rob Pope said that amount lost to online scams and fraud is particularly worrying.

CERT NZ received almost 2300 reports about scams and fraud in 2022. The number of these reports increased 21 percent from last year, and everyday New Zealanders lost almost $17.1m to online scams.

The decrease in overall scams is due to a drop of 88 percent in reports of malware. However, the top three categories reported to CERT NZ, phishing and credential harvesting, scams and fraud and unauthorised access, all saw significant increases.

In fact, when malware is excluded from total reporting counts there is a 15 percent increase in reports from 2021.

Unlike 2021, there were no large scale campaigns targeting New Zealanders such as the Flubot malware in 2022.

However, Aotearoa saw smaller campaigns, such as unauthorised money transfer scams, that targeted individuals for large losses.

The end of the year saw CERT NZ receive a record number of ransomware reports (36 in quarter three). Some of these were interconnected, as a single attack had a flow on affect to other organisations.

There was also an increase in fake extortion and blackmail scams reported to CERT NZ, with CERT NZ now receiving a new report roughly every three days.

CERT NZ chief executive Rob Pope reminded New Zealanders that staying vigilant is the key to staying safe online and keeping your money out of the hands of scammers.

“It’s always wise to just pause, take a moment and think about if the investment opportunity, bank warning, or romantic engagement is legitimate or not.

“Call the organisation on an official number, scout online to see if their photos have been taken from someone else; a little bit of work can avoid the heartache of losing your hard-earned money. All of this will go a long way to reducing these significant financial losses.”

Six percent of businesses experienced a direct ICT security attack resulting in loss or damage in the last two financial years, according to Stats NZ.

The percentage of businesses that reported loss or damage from information and communications technology (ICT) security attacks, based on businesses with access to the internet, is at its lowest since 2014, following a peak of 15 percent in 2018.