Cyber crime at all time high in NZ, expert warns of ways to keep safe online

Cyber crime incidents are on the rise again, with young people often the ones losing out, according to new findings from government-funded Computer Emergency Response Team, known as CERT.

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PWC’s Adrian van Hest gave his tips on how to stay safe online. Source: Breakfast

Findings released this morning show 1354 incidents were reported to the agency between July and September this year - a 13 per cent increase over the previous quarter and an all-time-high.

P.W.C Partner and cyber leader Adrian van Hest told TVNZ1's Breakfast this morning the results shows people aged 65 and older were improving, but the "neglected" age group of people between 18 and 24 were experiencing an increase in financial loss to cyber crime.

"It really was a neglected area of the population, almost a dismissive notion that that group was online to the extent they are," he said.

"I think the challenge with the young group is [they are] natively digital, very trusting of it all and really a hard group to get to in terms of probably traditional ways of educating people with just telling them 'this is the good thing to do'."

Mr van Hest said cyber crime was a very lucrative industry, with its annual global worth estimated at between $3 trillion and $6 trillion according to research carried out by Cybersecurity Ventures. 

"If you imagine the combined value of heroin, cocaine and marijuana trade is far less than that," he said.

"It's a pretty lucrative and low-cost crime to commit so it's not likely to go away any time soon, as is the fact that we're perpetually doing more online, through digital channels, on our mobile smartphones."

Mr van Hest's main advice to people online was to have several passwords, and have longer passwords. He suggested pass-phrases to help make them longer, or a password safe which stores your password for a site if you're unable to remember them.

"If we test an organisation generally and they've got a low requirement around password length we can often crack 50 per cent within the first five seconds. So the point of it is, get longer passwords, use a pass-phrase because the way computers work is the more digits, the more complicated it is, the more computing power you need to crack the password."

Mr van Hest also said multifactor helps authenticate that you are you - so he recommended multiple ways of entry including smartphone facial recognition and fingerprinting.