Cybercrime rise: Advisers need to be on guard

Experts believe financial services could be a prime target as cybercrime rises and ransom attacks “become more targeted”.

Wednesday, March 31st 2021, 6:30AM

by Daniel Smith

Petra Lucioli

New data from the government Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT NZ) shows a 65% increase in reports of cybercrime in New Zealand last year.

Group claims manager at Delta Insurance, Petra Lucioli says that those in financial services need to be on guard.

“Financial services are very much in danger of being targeted. It is not so much the wealth that these companies manage that is attractive to scammers, but the personal data that they hold.”

Lucioli says that her team are seeing a rise in claims related to cyber-attacks, “But what is more significant is the change in nature of the attacks than the rising number.”

“What we are beginning to see is far more targeted ransom attacks. Rather than being random, scattergun tactics, sending malware to a lot of people. We are now seeing specific attacks where scammers are sending specific malware to specific organisations and then encrypt their data.”

Lucioli says that previously scammers have been happy encrypting company data – but those tactics have changed.

“Now scammers are stealing customer data and holding that data ransom, threatening to release the data to the dark web if the company does not pay the ransom.”

CERT NZ showed that in 2020 $16.9 million was lost in cyber security instances. Those numbers do not take into account the reputational damage that was done to companies who found themselves victim to an attack.

CERT NZ director Rob Pope, said “From a financial perspective, the impacts of a cyber-attack can snowball.

“Businesses also incur additional costs recovering from a cyber incident, like hiring IT professionals to mitigate any further security issues, which can take months or even years to fully restore. This can result in loss of customer trust.”

Luckily, there are a few key things that those in financial services can do to protect themselves.

Lucioli says that it is important to “have physical offsite backups”.

“Because the scams are targeted the scammers are not just encrypting the files, they are going in and also encrypting the backup. Having an onsite backup is not good enough, you need to have an offsite backup too.”

She also has specific advice for those in the industry.

“Really focus on payment processes. Make sure that [you are] robust around ensuring any payments [that are made] are legitimate.”

Tags: CERT NZ cyber security Petra Lucioli

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