Online tracking and subsequent security threats have become increasingly prevalent in New Zealand, with NortonLifeLock research revealing some alarming statistics.
The company research lab 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," says NortonLifeLock head of technology Darren Shou.
Around the world, specific types of trackers and security threats the company intercepted included 3.9 million phishing attempts, 221 million file threats, 1.4 million mobile threats and 253,063 ransomware attacks.
Most of these threats and trackers were linked closely to digital pop culture, with phishing scams disguised as product, or merchandise offers linked to hit shows like Squid Game causing a wide variety of problems.
Norton emphasised the importance of communication amongst the global cyber community and warns that companies susceptible to breaches and tracking may face devastating long term effects.
They say despite 2021 featuring significant data breaches and concerning hacks, the global cybersecurity community has generally worked together to share information and develop systems to help businesses and consumers.
They also warn that scammers are starting to increasingly use the COVID-19 pandemic as a foothold, with prevalent Flubot smishing (SMS phishing) messages containing fake notices of upcoming package deliveries being a primary culprit.
Kiwis should also remain vigilant with how and where they source their COVID-19 information. Last year Norton Labs identified a large percentage of coronavirus-themed apps that were indeed malware.
Malicious apps and malware such as this could easily compromise the personal data on a device, highlighting the importance of protection for mobile devices.
When discussing the research, Shou says that he hopes it will make companies think about how they use trackers and apps and consider security concerns.
"We hope these findings shine a light on online tracking and empower consumers to take back their online privacy," he says.