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Report: Majority of New Zealanders exposed to cyber crime

More than a third of Kiwis have experienced a cyber crime incident in the past 12 months, according to new research. 

The NortonLifeLock Cyber Safety Insights Report found 1.2 million New Zealanders (36%) are estimated to have experienced cyber crime in 2019. On top of that, almost 5.4 million hours or an average of 4.3 hours per victim were spent resolving issues created by the crime.

Close to a third of New Zealand cyber crime victims (30%) were impacted financially with an estimated loss of NZ$108 million in the past year, the report found.

According to the research, one in six New Zealand adults have experienced identity theft. More than 605,000 New Zealand adults (17%) experienced identity theft, with 5% impacted in 2019. ore than half of Kiwis (56%), whether they have experienced identity theft or not, said they very worried that their identity will be stolen.

Fifty percent of respondents to the research said they felt they are well-protected against ID theft occurring, however two thirds (67%) said they would have no idea what to do if their identity were stolen, while and 85% wish they had more information on what to do if their identity were stolen.

"What we are seeing is New Zealanders who have historically taken a 'she'll be right attitude' are increasingly aware of the chance of identity theft, but don't know what to do if it does happen, and they're desperate for more information," comments Mark Gorrie, territory manager and cyber security expert, APJ, NortonLifeLock. 

The report found that distrust among New Zealand consumers towards social media providers outpaced the global average (54% do not trust at all vs. 43% global average). However, compared to those in other markets, more New Zealand respondents trust healthcare providers (94% trust a lot/a little vs. 89% global average) and the government (84% trust a lot/a little vs. 72% global average) when it comes to managing and protecting personal information.  

 Less than half of New Zealand consumers give credit to companies (40%) or the government (46%) for doing enough when it comes to data privacy and protection, the report says. And, almost half (46%) believe that New Zealand is behind most other countries when it comes to data privacy laws.

"Once the Privacy Bill comes into force, New Zealanders may begin to feel differently," says Gorrie.

"Once enacted, the Privacy Bill should put the onus on businesses to ensure they're keeping personal information safe and secure".

 Under the proposed new regulations, New Zealand businesses must report serious data breaches to the Office of the Privacy Commissioner. Businesses also must provide the personal information held on an individual back to that individual if they ask for it. 

"An important part of the bill requires overseas service providers, like social media or cloud software companies, to also comply with the new laws," Gorrie adds.

 The report found New Zealanders are split on who should be held most responsible for ensuring personal information and data privacy are protected. Nearly 4 in 10 (38%) believe the government should be held most responsible, while one-third (33%) put the burden on companies, followed closely by individual consumers (29%)  who should be protecting their own data privacy by reading the policies and ensuring their personal information is shared only with companies they trust.  

 The majority of New Zealand adults (86%) believe consumers should always read companies privacy policies in full but a mere 2% report always doing so themselves, the report shows. Only 9% say they do it often. In fact, New Zealanders are among the most likely to rarely/never read privacy policies (56% vs. 47% global average).

According to the research, most of the New Zealanders who do not always read privacy policies in full say its because they are too confusing (80% vs. 735 global average), and they feel they have no choice but to accept the policies in order to use the app or service (86% vs. 78% global average). And 9 out of 10 (89%) say that they would be more willing to read privacy policies if they were given choices about how their personal information could or couldn't be used; this is even more persuasive for adults in New Zealand than many other markets (82% global average).

 As security measures in public spaces increase, facial recognition technology is becoming more common place, according to the report. New Zealand consumers are among the most familiar with facial recognition (64% vs. 52% global average), second only to India (70%) and on par with the United States (64%). 

Despite familiarity with the technology, skepticism remains. The majority of New Zealand consumers (66%) believe facial recognition will be abused or misused in the next year above the global average of 62%. 

The report suggests New Zealanders overwhelmingly believe businesses (93%) and the government (92%) should be required to inform and report where or when they are using facial recognition well above the global averages (87 and 86% respectively). Specifically, the top concern among New Zealand consumers when it comes to facial recognition is the ability for cyber criminals to access and/or manipulate their facial recognition data and steal their identity (41%). 

"The NortonLifeLock Cyber Safety Insights Report brings to light the trends we've been seeing in New Zealand over the past year," Gorrie says. 

"People are becoming more aware of their presence online and the value of their personal data. It's not enough to simply have anti-virus software installed on a laptop anymore. It's critical that any cyber security plan designed to protect you and your family is comprehensive," he says.