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New Norton report finds deception scams on the rise

By Shannon Williams
Fri 29 Apr 2022

Cybercriminals are capitalising on global events using deepfakes and crypto scams to mislead consumers, a new report has revealed.

 NortonLifeLock's global research team, Norton Labs, has published its quarterly Consumer Cyber Safety Pulse Report sharing the top consumer cybersecurity insights and takeaways from January through March 2022, including how cybercriminals are deceiving victims with deepfakes and crypto scams to access financial or personal information.  

In New Zealand, between January and March 2022, Norton thwarted more than 5,708,083 threats, an average of around 62,044 threats per day.  

Deepfakes are being utilised by bad actors to scam consumers and spread disinformation. The Norton Labs team has spotted deepfakes used to create fake social media profiles, fuel charity scams and other fraudulent ploys, and spread propaganda relating to the ongoing war in Ukraine, in addition to deepfakes used simply to make funny videos. 

Crypto scams are also trending as cryptocurrency becomes more widely adopted. Norton Labs tracked more than $29 million in bitcoin stolen in 2021. It expects this figure to continue to rise in 2022 as the crypto markets value increases and scammers capitalise on world events, including the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine to steal donations from philanthropic crypto investors. New threats emerge as cybercriminals combine tactics. By presenting realistic disinformation via deepfakes in a phishing scam that collects payment in cryptocurrency, a consumer would have little to no recourse.  

"Scammers are always evolving their tactics to make their attacks look more believable," says Darren Shou, head of technology, NortonLifeLock. 

"Cybercriminals are masters at profiting from deception, so its crucial for consumers to be aware of the latest scams and to critically analyse anything suspicious they encounter on the internet, whether on social media or in their inbox," he says. 

"We are here to help consumers navigate a changing digital world where you cant always believe what you are seeing."

Earlier this year, NortonLifeLock research revealed online tracking and subsequent security threats have also become increasingly prevalent in New Zealand.

The company says that Norton technology blocked 6,327,788 cyber threats during the last quarter, with an average of 68,780 blocks per day between October and December.

The report also revealed that online trackers collect significantly more information than previously reported, adding to the degree of risk.

Online trackers are found to be able to know up to 80% of a users browsing history, and even if users clear their browser history every day, the company says it would only take an average of two hours to re-encounter half of all online trackers. 

"While it's common knowledge that web trackers follow us around the internet, our online privacy researchers were surprised to find that some online trackers know up to 80% of a user's browsing history," Shou says.

"We hope these findings shine a light on online tracking and empower consumers to take back their online privacy."

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