Nearly 1.3 million Kiwis experienced cybercrime during COVID-19 pandemic - report

A new report into cybercrime in New Zealand provides more details on the boom in people falling victim to online crooks amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The research from NortonLifeLock found nearly 1.3 million New Zealanders experienced cybercrime over the last year, with around 130,000 experiencing identity theft in 2020.

The findings follow a recent report from CERT NZ, the Government's cyber security agency, revealing it received 7809 reports of cyber security incidents affecting New Zealanders in 2020 - an increase from the 4740 reports made in 2019.

People do appear to be getting the message that cybercrime is on the increase.

NortonLifeLock's research found 86 percent of Kiwis have taken steps to protect their online activities and personal information, 26 percent of whom have done so due to changes in their lifestyle and work environment since the pandemic began.

Over 50 percent say they're making their passwords stronger than before and limiting the information they share on social media.

However, anyone who uses the internet these days exposes themself to privacy threats, and some people appear to feel a sense of hopelessness about it.

The report found that 53 percent of Kiwis feel it's "impossible" to protect their privacy, while 75 percent "accept certain risks to their online privacy to make their life more convenient".

"The data shows that New Zealanders are taking some of the steps needed already, such as making their passwords stronger and limiting the data they share on social media sites. But it's clearly not enough if so many still feel like protecting their privacy is impossible," says Mark Gorrie, senior director at NortonLifeLock.

"Kiwis must continue to protect their digital lives by educating themselves on cybercrime and how to better protect their privacy. A logical next step is learning how to maximise privacy settings on digital platforms and social media accounts.

"Continuing to stay abreast of how to identify scams, avoid targeted attacks, and spot bot behaviour are also important." 

The research for NortonLifeLock was conducted by The Harris Poll between February 15 and 28, with a sample size of 1004 New Zealanders aged 18 or over.

Nine other countries were included in the report, in which "no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated".

More of the report's findings can be read about on the NortonLifeLock website.