Coronavirus: New Zealand's internet infrastructure 'world class' - but beware of scammers

Scammers are kickstarting their campaigns of hoaxing and harassment as the world moves online amid the COVID-19 pandemic - and New Zealanders need to remain vigilant.

"We've already seen the scams kick in, I've had numerous calls from random parts of the world," Paul Spain, the CEO of leading New Zealand IT support service Gorilla Technology, told The AM Show on Tuesday.

"If you answer those calls, they hang up and hope you'll call back to generate incoming call revenue. There's a whole raft of scams."

Spain says New Zealanders need to be cautious as they navigate their new online world amid the imminent level four lockdown. On Monday, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern raised the COVID-19 alert system to level three, with the maximum level - level four - being declared in just over 24 hours.

As a result, new stringent protocols will be implemented nationwide, including the closure of all non-essential businesses and services. All employees are expected to work from home - meaning the internet is now more crucial than ever.

"We need to be cautious about what we click on in terms of emails and what we visit. If it's too good to be true, it probably is - [we need to exercise] absolute caution in terms of what we're doing online and what we're clicking on," Spain advised.

Will New Zealand's internet be able to cope?

Despite the overwhelming number of New Zealanders using the country's internet infrastructure at once, the country is in a "pretty impressive position", Spain says.

"We can absolutely get through this, but there are always going to be some unknowns. Fortunately we have world class internet infrastructure.

"We've heard around the world how Netflix and others have been dialling down the quality of their streams. There's no sign of that in New Zealand yet, partly because we have such good infrastructure in place."

He hopes the Government will strike the right balance of essential services to available telecommunications and IT staff, ensuring the country has access to adequate support as they move their workload online. Yet it's imperative for New Zealanders to remember there are peak times, and there may be some hiccups

"There's a fair bit of capacity available, [but] working from home, we end up with the workload being spread out. There will be peak situations, we saw that with the telephone systems yesterday," Spain says. 

"However, internet-based calling is more reliable than traditional phone calls, which is a testament to how good the broadband is."