Record losses to cybercrime a concern, 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.

23 March 2023

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.”

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.”

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.”

The full Cyber Security Insights and Data Landscape reports are available on the CERT NZ reports page: 

Quarter Four: Cyber Security Insights 2022 

2022 Report Summary