One third of Kiwis fell victim to cybercrimes in the last 12 months - survey

An illustration of online security
Around 10 percent of respondents fell victim to shipping-related scams like Flubot. Photo credit: Getty Images

A third of Kiwis suffered from cybercrime in the last 12 months according to a new survey from online security firm Norton.

The 2022 Norton Cyber Safety Insights Report surveyed 10,000 adults in 10 countries, including 1000 in Aotearoa, with an average loss of $135 for New Zealanders impacted, the report said.

That cost doesn't include the cost of the average five hours spent trying to resolve the issues either.

The most common cybercrime was unauthorised access to online accounts, the survey found, with 37 percent suffering that fate. Nearly a third surveyed (31 percent) reported malicious software like spyware, viruses and ransomware on their devices.

"The fact that one third of Kiwis surveyed have experienced cybercrime in the past year, shows that cybercriminals are increasingly taking advantage of our heightened digital footprint," Mark Gorrie, senior director, Asia Pacific at NortonLifeLock said.

"As we face an ongoing pandemic with work and school oscillating between in-person and online, both companies and individuals will have a continued responsibility to ensure the proper protections are in place to defend themselves against cybercriminals."

Last week CERT NZ, the Government's cybersecurity agency, revealed in the three months between October and December last year that Kiwis had lost over $6.5 million to online scams.

That came from just 414 incidents reported to it, the agency said, with the majority of financial losses less than $500. Ten incidents cost over $100,000, however.

There were nearly 4000 reports to CERT NZ in the three months to December, up a massive 92 percent from the previous quarter.

The biggest increase was malware incidents, which was up a staggering 1030 percent, with the Flubot text messaging scam making up two-thirds of those incidents.

Norton found 10 percent of those surveyed for its report had fallen victim to a shipping-related scam like Flubot in the past 12 months alone, although phishing scams in general have been observed by 40 percent of respondents.

That was significantly less than the 49 percent who reported they had a computer or mobile phone virus, according to the survey.

"It's so important to maintain good digital hygiene - keep your devices updated with the latest operating system, use strong passwords combined with multi-factor authentication and use comprehensive security to help keep your devices and data safe," Gorrie said.

"Also, don't grant apps broad permissions, only let them access what they need to function.

"Broad permissions could lead to malware being able to perform unwanted tasks and spread further, so make sure you remain vigilant."

Finally, 21 percent of those surveyed reported experiencing identity theft online, with five percent impacted in the last year alone.

More than two in five (43 percent) discovered the theft themselves, most commonly by monitoring their financial accounts online.

More than one in three were notified about their identity theft by an external source with 21 percent reporting they were notified by their bank or credit card company.  

And just because younger New Zealanders might be more familiar with the internet, it didn't necessarily make them less vulnerable.

"Younger Kiwis may feel more invincible because they are more tech savvy; however the fact is cybercriminals do not distinguish between victims' ages and will launch attacks whenever they spot vulnerabilities," Gorrie concluded.