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Cyber-attacks on the rise: CERT NZ

Sarah Putt, Contributor. 05 December 2019, 4:04 pm

In the last quarter, CERT NZ received the highest number of reports to date, with 1354 incidents resulting in $3.8 million in direct financial loss.

And it seems no one is immune to the threats.

"At CERT NZ, we learn more about New Zealand's threat landscape with every report we receive, and we're seeing that security issues are impacting people and organisations all over New Zealand. From teens to CEOs, incidents are experienced across the board," Director Rob Pope says in the agency's Quarter Three Report 2019 (1 July - 30 September) published today.

Phishing is especially prevalent, making up 38% of all reports in Q3 and it appears that it is quite a diverse business model with a number of techniques used to ensnare people. There are phishing emails (widespread), vishing (voice phishing), spear phishing (targeted), smishing (SMS phishing), whaling (targeting senior executives), and search engine phishing (using SEO techniques to promote phishing websites).

In the past year CERT NZ has also seen a spike in email extortions where the sender claims to have accessed the recipients webcam and recorded them in their home. The email demands that money be paid or the recording will be sent to their contact list.

"So far this year, we've received 560 webcam blackmail scam reports (Q1 - Q3), compared with 522 for the whole of 2018. This quarter, we received 228 new reports, showing a continued rise in reports through 2019. These figures indicate that this scam is likely to continue into 2020."

On a more encouraging note, the report highlights that people aged over 65 years old are becoming more security aware, and this is contributing to a drop in cybercrime for this demographic.

"This year, CERT NZ's data has shown a positive trend for the over 65 age group. Since Q1, there has been a 60% decrease in direct financial losses reported, while at the same time, a 20% increase in the number of reports about this age group," the report says.

"This positive trend indicates that although cyber-attacks are on the rise, the over 65 age group are taking the simple security steps to help build their online resilience and increase their ability to protect themselves and their finances from scams and attacks."

You can read the full report here.


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