Quiet year doesn't mean the scams have stopped

While the number of reports to CERT NZ dropped in the final quarter of 2023, and across the year in total, there is plenty to suggest that cyber criminals are not stopping their campaigns.

20 March 2024

Reports to CERT NZ showed New Zealanders lost $3.6 million to cybercrime over the last three months of 2023. These losses are down, a 24% decrease from the previous quarter, which is a good thing. However, CERT NZ is aware that scammers are not resting.

A campaign of phone scam calls, targeting Chinese-speaking migrants, sparked a remarkable increase in incident reports in that category. It's still unclear what the purpose of the calls was but the sheer volume suggests that there will be hundreds of unreported calls that may have tripped people up.

CERT NZ Director Rob Pope said that this shows that malicious actors are not giving up.

"Phishing, whether it's via email, text message or phone call, remains the biggest category of all cyber incidents, and one we see on a daily basis," Pope said. "The CERT NZ team deal with hundreds of phishing indicators every week and we know that New Zealanders are being caught out by the increasingly sophisticated campaigns."

The advanced nature of these attacks can also be seen in a recent spate of so-called 'recovery room scams'. These target people who have already lost money to cyber criminals, pretending to help while siphoning off even more money.

"While the lower numbers for 2023 in total may seem like a good thing, we know that underreporting is still happening," Pope said. "There are also individuals suffering from large financial losses to these criminals as well as numerous businesses being targeted with ransomware and email harvesting."

"Some of the wider, catch-all phishing campaigns we are seeing will undoubtedly result in more targeted attacks in the future. Because of this, CERT NZ urges New Zealanders to remain vigilant for incidents."

2023 Annual Report Summary

Quarter four cyber security insights 2023