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CERT NZ's Quarterly Report in Review: How do we as a country shape up?

Throughout the majority of 2020, many of us were concerned with not only a sudden change in the way we live, but also how exposed we had become when it came to personal and professional security on the internet, and the threat of a cyber security breach became far more relevant.


Throughout the year, New Zealand's Government based cyber security advice agency CERT NZ has been keeping tabs on just how the digital landscape has changed through 2020. In their full-year report, they noted that they saw nearly 8000 incident reports made, an over 60% increase on the previous year. These were from not only large organisations, but from individuals themselves further proving that no fish is too small for the hacking pool.

Although not strictly detailed, it can be assumed that this due to masses of people working from home, providing hackers with a smorgasbord of new potential targets in differing roles to choose from. They were quick to act and wasted no time in getting to work exploiting the new found vulnerabilities of those unfortunate enough to land in their crosshairs, with the most damaging quarter of the year being from 1 July through to September 30. This quarter alone contributed to over a quarter of all reports made throughout 2020 and resulted in a $6.4 million direct financial loss.

The report also breaks down the forms in which these incidents took place, with phishing scams still proving to be the most effective and common form of attack making up 41% of all incidents reported in Quarter 4, and still increasing at a rapid rate. Perhaps what has seen the biggest increase throughout the year however has been the over 2000% increase from 2019 in malware reports, reinforcing the fact that the cyber security environment is evershifting.

Despite the somewhat intimidating statistics listed above, there is some positive news about the direction in which we as a country are heading. Due to a large amount of noise on the cyber security front, more kiwis are becoming aware of the threat of a cyber breach, and have begun to actively put in preventative measures to bolster security. At the very least, there is a maturing awareness of what this means for individuals and businesses. This is proven in a 20% decrease in phishing incidents reported to CERT NZ from Quarter 3 to a typically vulnerable Quarter 4, otherwise known as the Christmas season. This shows progress and hopefully a more accepted and thorough appreciation of the threats posed by cyber security.

As the world continues to embrace and innovate technology, there is cause for concern into what our habits are and it is important to exercise good technological hygiene to ensure we are staying safe in our widely connected lives, especially when we are experiencing an increase in IoT devices. Despite the convenience it is important to remember that when using IoT connections, you are opening your device to the internet, therefore the same risks exist. about about

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