15 April 2024

Record financial losses to cyber crime a concern, says CertNZ

Record financial losses to online scams, frauds are particularly concerning in New Zealand even as reports decline.

CERT NZ’s latest annual summary shows that scammers are still finding new and inventive ways of getting to our money. While reports were down slightly on the previous year, financial losses jumped up 19% 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 2,300 reports about scams and fraud in 2022,” said Pope. “The number of these reports increased 21% from last year, and everyday New Zealanders lost almost $17.1m to online scams.”

Direct financial losses per quarter
Direct financial losses per quarter (Source/CertNZ)

The decrease in overall reports is due to a drop of 88% in reports of malware. However, the top three categories reported to CERT NZ – phishing and credential harvesting, scams & fraud, and unauthorised access – all saw significant increases. In fact, when malware is excluded from total reporting counts there is a 15% increase in reports from 2021.

“Unlike 2021, there were no large-scale campaigns targeting New Zealanders – such as the Flubot malware – in 2022,” said Pope. “However, we did see smaller campaigns, such as unauthorised money transfer scams, that targeted individuals for large losses.”

Age-wise individuals affected
Age-wise individuals affected (Source/CertNZ)

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.

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.”

If you have come across or interacted with any malicious sites, or victim of a cyber scam or attempted online scam, you should report to CERT NZ.

CERT NZ team works to support businesses, organisations and individuals who are affected (or may be affected) by cyber security incidents.

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