Complacency makes Kiwis more vulnerable to cyber attacks

The volume and sophistication of financially-motivated cyber attacks has increased over the last six months, so it is critical Kiwis step up their defences, says CERT NZ, the government agency which supports organisations and individuals affected by cyber security incidents.

19 October 2020

“The Kiwi ‘she’ll be right’ attitude won’t cut the mustard anymore when it comes to cyber security,” says CERT NZ Director Rob Pope.

“CERT NZ’s incident data, and information provided by our global partners tells us that cyber attacks have become more sophisticated, persistent and harder to detect than ever before.

“Your personal information is highly valuable to attackers regardless of who you are, so it’s important that more Kiwis get serious about protecting themselves online.

“Steps like using a password manager, two-factor authentication, updating devices and checking privacy settings are the basics to building your cyber defence.”

CERT NZ is highlighting the most important steps Kiwis need to take to be more cyber resilient, as part of Cyber Smart Week, which launched today.

Research by CERT NZ found 87% of New Zealanders agree safety and security of their personal information online is something that’s really important to them, however 40% expressed that taking the necessary precautions to safeguard their online personal information is inconvenient.

Almost a third (32%) of Kiwis don’t frequently check the privacy settings on their social media accounts. Roughly the same amount (30%) don’t use two-factor authentication (2fa) when logging into an online account. This is a code sent to your phone or an authentication app to verify your identity in addition to using a password, and adds another layer of security to your logins.

“It appears the majority of Kiwis know they should be cyber smart, but some are not acting on it,” says Rob Pope.

“The results are concerning. They reveal approximately a third of New Zealanders are more vulnerable to a cyber attack, meaning their data could be accessed and their identity stolen, enabling the attacker to conduct a range of criminal activities, including online fraud.

“We all lock our homes to stop burglars from stealing our valuable possessions. It’s no different in the online world. Taking precautions, such as using two-factor authentication, is like putting your precious online data under lock and key and adding a security alarm.”  

It is important that we take steps to build our cyber resilience as both individuals and as a country.  Following these four steps will go a long way to build your cyber defences:

  • Use a password manager to keep track of each strong and unique password you have for every online account
  • Turn on two-factor authentication to add an extra layer of security to your logins and accounts
  • Update your devices and operating systems to defend against bugs and viruses
  • Check your privacy settings to know and control who sees your stuff

CERT NZ’s annual awareness-raising campaign, Cyber Smart Week, takes place between 19 - 23 October 2020. Find out more about Cyber Smart Week.