We highlight current cyber security threats in New Zealand, and provide guidance on what to do if they affect you.

2:15pm, 18 March 2019

TLP Rating: Clear

Christchurch tragedy-related scams and attacks

CERT NZ has received reports of different opportunistic online scams and attacks in the wake of the tragic events in Christchurch last week.

These reports include:

  • online donation fraud
  • malware embedded in video files
  • defacement of NZ websites, and
  • denial-of-service.

What's happening

What this means

Scammers and attackers are using the tragic event as an opportunity to perform targeted online cyber attacks against New Zealanders.

In the reports we’ve received, the scams and attacks follow these formats:

  • phishing emails containing links to fake online banking logins. These emails also contain fraudulent bank accounts where victims can make donations for the Christchurch tragedy
  • sharing malicious video files on compromised websites or on social media. A video file containing footage related to the attack had malware embedded in it and this malicious file is being shared online
  • attackers changing New Zealand websites to spread political messages about the Christchurch tragedy
  • New Zealand websites receiving threats of denial-of-service attacks, which would take them offline.

There are official channels to donate money to the victims of these tragic events. CERT NZ recommends that anyone wishing to donate seek out official platforms and banks rather than using links in emails or on social media.

What to do


If you receive a phishing email or have found a website hosting political messages, report it to CERT NZ.

If your website has been taken over with political content relating to the tragic events in Christchurch, report it to CERT NZ. 

We recommend you consent to share your report with our partner agencies (in this case, DIA and NZ Police). 

Report an issue to CERT NZ

The Department of Internal Affairs considers the footage related to the attack as objectionable material, and therefore considered an offence to possess, share and/or host the harmful content.

If you are aware of online footage related to the attack report it to the Department of Internal Affairs.

Report to DIA's Censorship Unit External Link  

More information

If you need to talk to someone, the following free helplines operate 24/7:

  • Depression helpline: 0800 111 757
  • Lifeline: 0800 543 354
  • Need to talk? Call or text 1737
  • Samaritans: 0800 726 666
  • Youthline: 0800 376 633 or text 234

Learn about phishing emails

Learn about denial-of-service attacks

If you require more information or further support, submit a report on our website or contact us on 0800 CERTNZ.

Report an incident to CERT NZ

For media enquiries, email our media desk at or call the MBIE media team on 027 442 2141.