Financial losses due to cybercrime up 66% in first quarter of 2023 – CERT NZ

CERT NZ has seen report numbers, in the first quarter of this year, creep back up from the last quarter of 2022. And unfortunately, so has financial loss.

22 June 2023

Reports are up 12% from last quarter and financial losses are up 66% to almost $6 million. Among those reports CERT NZ has seen an increase in scams. While not the highest number of scam reports ever seen, the trend is that scams are on the rise (up 23% from Q4 2023).

In its quarterly Cyber Security Insights Report, CERT NZ covers the new tactics of scammers running investment scams and romance scams.

Cyber criminals are using search engine ads and professional-looking documentation to scam New Zealanders looking to invest money. One scam campaign in February cost New Zealanders millions of dollars in a very short time, which reflects how quickly someone can lose their assets if they’re not alert.

CERT NZ Director Rob Pope asks that everyone be more aware online.

“In general, the key is to always be vigilant. Take your time when you see investment opportunities online, verify exactly who you’re talking to, don’t give away your personal information and keep yourself secure online.”

CERT NZ’s advice is:

  • don’t believe promises of over-the-top investment returns;
  • triple-check every company before investing in them; and
  • don’t reply to investment opportunities that arrive via Whatsapp or other message platforms.

The report also covers the emerging trends of artificial intelligence (AI) being used in scams.

“The cyber security world is taking notice of how scammers are using AI tools,” said Pope. “AI can be used to write more convincing phishing emails in various languages, to create malicious code, and to even impersonate people in live chats.”

The silver lining is that while AI is making scams easier to create, the tactics are the same kind that has been used for years. As such, CERT NZ’s advice on avoiding them is unchanged.

AI-assisted scams have reached New Zealand, and while CERT NZ hasn’t seen many reports specifically about AI, its analysts believe that it’s only a matter of time before it takes off.

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

Quarter One: Cyber Security Insights 2023