NZX cyber attacks: Computer expert calls for a global crackdown on digital crimes

A computer science expert is calling for a global crackdown on cybercrimes after the New Zealand Stock Exchange (NZX) website was targeted for a fifth time on Monday.

The NZX website has been targeted by repeated distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks over the past week, beginning last Tuesday.

Rizwan Asghar, from the University of Auckland, says cybersecurity must be taken seriously like COVID-19.

He said working with the five-eyes - which includes Australia, Canada, the UK, the US, and NZ - to identify the source of the attacks is a good start but not the complete solution.

"This attack is not necessarily from these countries," he said. "Just like COVID-19 - we have to make sure that for cybersecurity we have a more coordinated approach to mitigate the possible cyber attacks.

"We must have a very coordinated approach to crack down on these cybercriminals," he told Newshub on Monday. 

Asghar is urging companies to have a cybersecurity strategy ready. He said the repetitive nature of the NZX attacks is relatively new.

"There are attacks on different service providers - especially on the financial sector - but I think this is something new we have to consider while having any mitigation strategy.

"I would say this is quite new and this is a wake-up call for all of us to make sure we take some action."

Asghar believes the Government needs to step in and help fight the cyber attacks. Media companies Stuff and RNZ have also been hit by attempted hacks.

Those in power need to be prepared, he said.

Rush Digital founder Danu Abeysuriya said on Monday that cyber attackers can be difficult to track.

"Whoever's doing it has a lot of resources organised - so it could be a really cashed-up criminal gang, which is highly likely, or something more," he told The AM Show.

"It's highly likely that it's a ransom-type attack."