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Wellington – Cyber security incidents in the last year have jumped 65 percent, with an associated $16.9 million in direct financial losses – just the tip of the iceberg, CERT NZ says.

In 2020 CERT NZ, the government agency which supports organisations and people affected by cyber security incidents, received 7809 reports of cyber security incidents affecting New Zealanders, a significant leap from the 4740 reports made in 2019.

“More Kiwis spent time online last year due to the impacts of covid, presenting many opportunities for cyber attackers,” CERT NZ director Rob Pope says.

Phishing and credential harvesting, where an attacker collects personal data to perform an array of online crimes like fraud, was the most reported form of attack during 2020. These types of incidents were up 76 percent on 2019, accounting for 41 percent of all reports made.

“Unfortunately, these figures are not surprising. Cyber attackers are opportunistic and use anything topical as a hook to try and trick people into sharing personal or financial details,” Pope says.

The amount of money Kiwis are losing to cyber security incidents is also on the rise. In 2020, cyber security incidents left Kiwis about $17 million out of pocket, the highest annual figure recorded by CERT NZ since it launched in 2017.

In total, $53 million dollars of direct financial loss has been reported to CERT NZ since reporting began.

CERT NZ figures show 14 percent of cyber security incidents reported in 2020 were associated with some type of loss including financial, operational, reputational or data.

CERT NZ provides actionable and easy-to-follow information online to help Kiwis get started. They are  New Zealand’s computer emergency response team and works to support businesses, organisations and people affected by cyber security incidents.

Pope says the reported incident numbers are just the tip of the iceberg. There are other equally harmful impacts that are more difficult to measure, like loss of confidence online.