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Over a third of New Zealanders fell victim to cybercrime in the last year

More than one-third of New Zealanders fell victim to cybercrime, a new report from NortonLifeLock has discovered. 

The 6th annual Norton Cyber Safety Insights Report, conducted online in partnership with The Harris Poll among over 10,000 adults in 10 countries including 1,004 adults in New Zealand, revealed that in the past year, nearly 330 million people across 10 countries were victims of cybercrime and more than 55 million people were victims of identity theft. 

Over the past year, 65% of people around the world report spending more time online than ever before as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

"As we connected to the internet for everything from work and school to entertainment, social connection and even groceries, cybercriminals took advantage and launched coordinated attacks and convincing scams," the report says.

Cybercrime victims collectively spent nearly 2.7 billion hours trying to resolve their issues. In New Zealand, it is estimated cybercrime led to a collective loss of NZD$198 million.

Despite many New Zealanders (61%) saying they are taking more precautions online because they are concerned about cybercrime, over a third (36%) say they feel more vulnerable to cybercrime than they did before the COVID-19 pandemic began, and close to half (47%) say they aren’t sure how to protect themselves from cybercrime.

The Norton Cyber Safety Insights Report found one in five New Zealanders (20%) detected unauthorised access to an account or device in the past 12 months. Of the 1.3 million New Zealanders who experienced cybercrime in the past 12 months (35%, a 1 percentage point fall from 2019), victims spent an average of 3.7 hours trying to resolve the issues created, for an estimated nearly 5 million hours of New Zealanders’ time lost.

“While New Zealanders lives weren’t disrupted at the same levels as other nations, some behaviours adopted in 2020, like working from home or increased online shopping, will likely remain,” says Mark Gorrie, senior director, Asia Pacific, NortonLifeLock.

“Cybercriminals have taken advantage of our changing behaviours and increased digital footprint, and quickly learned to exploit the heightened online activity. 

"As we adapt to the post-pandemic world, companies and individuals in particular will have a greater responsibility to ensure the proper protections are in place to fight evolving cybercriminals.”

Online criminal activity has led to feelings of anger, fear and anxiety. More than half of New Zealanders who detected unauthorised access to an account or device in the past 12 months felt angry (56%), while more than 2 in 5 felt violated (43%) or stressed (41%) and around a third (34%) felt powerless.

Nearly all (98%) took some action after detecting unauthorised access to their account(s), most commonly making password(s) stronger (62%) or contacting the company that the account was hacked from (47%).

Around a quarter turned to family member(s) (25%) and friend(s) (24%), and 3 in 10 (30%) went online to try and find help. Notably, less than a quarter (23%) purchased security software or increased pre-existing security software.

Identity theft
According to the report, nearly 130,000 New Zealanders experienced ID theft in the past 12 months, and more than 4 in 5 (84%) wish they had more information on what to do if their identity was stolen. 

Many New Zealanders (51%), whether they have experienced identity theft or not, are very worried their identity will be stolen, but nearly 6 in 10 (59%) say they would have no idea what to do if it were.

Data privacy
The research showed most New Zealanders are concerned about data privacy (79%) and want to do more to protect it (87%). In fact, nearly 9 in 10 (86%) have taken steps to protect their online activities and personal information, about a quarter of whom (26%) have done so due to changes in lifestyles and work environment since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

“It’s very encouraging to see more New Zealanders taking proactive steps to strengthen their cyber safety and protect their digital world,” says Gorrie.

Additional New Zealand findings include:

  • 15% of New Zealanders fell victim to a scam in the past year.
  • Half of New Zealanders (50%) say they are more worried than ever about being the victim of a cybercrime.
  • Being online more than ever before, and remote working are concerns for New Zealanders. With many Kiwis (66%) spending more time online than ever before, it is no surprise that more than three-quarters (77%) believe that remote work has made it much easier for hackers and cybercriminals to take advantage of people.
  • New Zealanders are concerned about the authenticity of information they see online, with over half (56%) saying it is difficult for them to determine if information they see online is from a credible source
  • More than half of Kiwis (53%) feel it’s impossible to protect their privacy, and a similar proportion (45%) say they don’t know how.
  • Three-quarters of New Zealanders (75%) accept certain risks to their online privacy to make their life more convenient, however, the majority (57%) report being more alarmed than ever about their privacy.
  • New Zealanders are taking password security seriously, with over half (57%) making passwords stronger in order to protect their online activities and personal information.
  • Many Kiwis are limiting information shared on social media. Over half of New Zealanders (51%) report limiting information shared on social media in order to protect their online activities and personal information.