Rob Pope, Director
COVID-19 disrupted the activities of all New Zealand businesses and organisations this year. For CERT NZ, it meant the production of the 2020 Q1 report was interrupted. That’s why this publication provides a half year picture of the data and trends in 2020, rather than the usual quarterly focus.
CERT NZ received a greater number of incident reports between January and June, compared with the same period in 2019. Although some incidents were clearly the result of opportunistic cyber attackers taking advantage of the COVID-19 environment, the bulk of the reports were not specifically COVID-19 themed.
The increase in reporting is a welcome sign that New Zealanders are becoming more cyber smart and more vigilant online. However, cyber attackers are also increasingly sophisticated, and the need for effective cyber security measures has never been more pressing.
We’re all vulnerable to cyber security threats and the best way to stay safe is to take preventative measures. Being cyber smart includes putting in place safeguards that can protect us against attacks. A good example of where prevention is the best approach, is with malware compromise, which is the focus of this report. Although relatively few in number, reports relating to malware are among the most serious we deal with, and can have devastating effects on individuals and online businesses.
More businesses are moving to online trading – a trend that has accelerated over lockdown. In response to this, CERT NZ teamed up with Consumer Protection to run the joint ‘Protect it’ campaign running both online and on television until the end of August, and then picking up again for the pre-Christmas period through November and December.
CERT NZ’s campaign encourages businesses to Trade Smart Online and offers practical steps to help keep their websites secure. Consumer Protection’s campaign encourages consumers to Shop Smart Online by pausing before they pay, and checking a few simple things about the website.
Collaboration with other agencies is critical to our efforts to combat cyber threats. Likewise, the businesses and everyday New Zealanders who report incidents to us are vitally important contributors to the cyber security ecosystem.
Every report received through our online reporting tool helps us build a clearer picture of New Zealand’s cyber security landscape. They help guide CERT NZ to where our efforts are best directed, and take us closer to the goal of a more cyber resilient New Zealand.