Financial losses from cybercrime have surged by 66%.

Financial losses due to cybercrime have surged by 66% in the first quarter of 2023, according to CERT NZ. The organization has observed a 12% increase in reported incidents compared to the previous quarter, with a particular rise in scams. In their latest Cyber Security Insights Report, CERT NZ focuses on the tactics used by scammers, including investment and romance scams. Cyber criminals are leveraging search engine ads and professional-looking documentation to target unsuspecting New Zealanders. CERT NZ Director Rob Pope emphasizes the importance of vigilance, verifying sources, and maintaining online security. The report also highlights the growing use of artificial intelligence (AI) in scams, although traditional tactics remain prevalent.

Source: Quarter One Cyber Security Insights 2023 | CERT NZ

Breakdown by Incident Category: 

Source: Quarter One Cyber Security Insights 2023 | CERT NZ

Artificial Intelligence:

Scammers are increasingly utilizing artificial intelligence (AI) as the newest threat in the cyber landscape. While the mechanics of scams haven’t undergone significant changes due to AI, these tools have streamlined the process of creating and executing scams.

With AI, scammers can generate more convincing and error-free phishing scripts and descriptive content. AI-powered image generators enable the creation of numerous realistic photos, whether of a specific person or entirely fictitious individuals. This facilitates the rapid and large-scale production of fake profiles commonly used in romance or investment scams.

Moreover, AI-powered chatbots, such as ChatGPT, can be deployed during live chats, enhancing the scammers’ perceived legitimacy and further deceiving their targets.

Cybersecurity experts have taken note of scammers leveraging AI tools to enhance their tactics, such as crafting more convincing phishing emails in multiple languages, creating malicious code, and even impersonating individuals in live chats.

While AI is facilitating the creation of scams, the underlying tactics remain consistent with those used for years. Consequently, CERT NZ’s advice on avoiding scams remains unchanged.

Although CERT NZ hasn’t received many reports specifically focused on AI, analysts believe it is only a matter of time before AI-assisted scams become more prevalent in New Zealand.

The full Cyber Security Insights and Data Landscape reports are available on the CERT NZ reports page.

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