Reported losses from scams fell sharply during the three months to the end of June despite a high number of complaints.
Fears that Kiwis might be fleeced by cyber-scammers while they were stuck at home during the coronavirus lockdowns do not appear to have come to pass.
Cyber-security agency Cert NZ said 3102 “cyber security incidents” were reported to it during the six months to the end of June, which was an increase of 42 per cent on the same period last year.
In April alone, 820 incident reports were received, which was the highest monthly number since the agency was established in 2017.
But Cert NZ said reported financial losses fell from $6 million during the first three months of the year to $1.8m during the period from April to June.
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“Although Covid-19 created opportunities for cyber attackers, the majority of incidents reported to us were not specifically about the pandemic,” director Rob Pope said.
“The increase in 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,” he said.
One concern was that Cert NZ received 487 reports about webcam email extortion scams during the second quarter, up from just 34 reports in the first quarter, he said.
“This is either due to more attackers taking advantage of the Covid-19 environment, or more people being vigilant to these types of scam.”
Webcam extortion scams usually involve scammers falsely claiming to have recorded footage of a victim visiting an adult website.
The increase in these types of scams did not lead to significant financial loss suggesting that New Zealanders were more alert to them, possibly in part due to awareness campaigns, Cert NZ said.
Of the 3102 reports Cert NZ received, 562 were referred to Police, 10 to the Department of Internal Affairs and two to the National Cyber Security Centre.
During the half-year there were 19 cases of people reporting a loss of $100,000 or more from a scam, of which 10 stemmed from the compromise of business email accounts.
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