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NetSafe reports $1m Kiwi cyber losses

13 Aug 2012

Netsafe has published figures showing almost $1m in losses over the past year due to online cyber attacks.

The safety advice website says New Zealanders made more than 1500 reports over the course of 12 months with financial losses rising to $982,690.

Marking the second anniversary of their ‘Online Reporting Button’ website, NetSafe says cold calling computer ‘doctors’ were the number one issue for the second year running.

Compromised accounts were a common problem with many people spending time and money to restore access and alert friends to scam or spam emails or chat messages being sent under their name.

“Online scams and fraud make up a large part of what’s being reported to NetSafe,” says Martin Cocker, NetSafe’s executive director.

“There has been a decline in reports about cold calling technical support companies and a rise in the number of people having their online accounts hacked.”

The number of reports being made by Aucklanders and Cantabrians rose whilst Southland and Wellington saw steep falls in cyber incidents.

Fresh from reports suggesting cyber crime to be as valuable as the drugs trade, there was a rise in the number of reports about online harassment and abuse on websites and social networking pages.

“As well as suffering financial losses, many people are struggling to deal with the emotional turmoil and stress caused by online break-ins to their email and social networking accounts,” says Cocker.

“There’s also been a marked rise in the number of complaints about online trading, including penny auction sites.

“With more people now shopping online and looking overseas for bargains, many people have fallen victim to fake websites that never deliver the goods they've paid for.”

The website, run in partnership with the Police, also reports significant losses through romance and online dating scams with the sum involved almost doubling to more than $674,000.

“Our general advice to people echoes the simple steps we pushed during June’s Cyber Security Awareness Week: use strong, unique passwords for your important online accounts and be suspicious of spam or phishing messages which direct you to malicious or fake websites,” Cocker says.

"If you’re looking to buy online always be cautious of websites you haven’t dealt with before and if the price seems too good to be true take some time to research the company.

“Google their name and the words ‘review’ or ‘scam’ to see if other customers have had problems in the past.”

“Lastly, avoid sending money by wire transfer to people you don’t know and if you buy online use a credit card and discuss any problem transactions with your bank.”

Is cyber crime getting out of control? Tell us your thoughts below.

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