Experts count the costs of cyber-crime

14 August 2014

Cyber Security

CYBER EXPERTS: From left, Wayne Rumbles, Martin Cocker, Dr Ryan Ko and facilitator Brenda Midson at the second in the Winter Lecture Series.

Cyber-crime costs New Zealand millions of dollars each year but there are simple steps people can take to ensure they stay safe online.

The effects of cyber-crime

Netsafe executive director Martin Cocker says there have been various estimates of the costs to the New Zealand economy from cyber-crime ranging from $150 million to $660 million and whatever the actual number, “it’s probably getting worse”.

Mr Cocker was speaking at the second of the University of Waikato’s Winter Lecture Series on protecting yourself and your family online.

His tips for staying safe online include keeping systems updated, backing up files, securing wireless networks, using strong passwords and to “think before you click”.

“You should be constantly aware that you are facing risk,” he says.

Staying safe online

Senior lecturer Dr Ryan Ko, who heads the University of Waikato’s Cyber Security Lab, showed the 160-strong audience a graphic example of the lengths hackers go to in order to install things such as malware on computers and reinforced Mr Cocker’s message to keep programs updated.

Apathy, he says, is the biggest obstacle to people staying safe online.

He was working on ways to make online security more user-centric, as ease of use was a key factor for consumers, he says.

He also hoped to develop ways people could take control of their computer systems even if they have been hacked.

“What do you do when you’ve been hacked? You can call Netsafe but there’s nothing else you can do.”

Criminal justice system and cyber-crime

Senior law lecturer Wayne Rumbles says the criminal justice system was still trying to catch up with sophisticated cyber-criminality.

“We had no cyber law until 2003 and we need the next generation of lawyers, police and judges to come through who will be digital natives,” he says.

Mr Rumbles says there are several issues to be overcome with cyber criminality: Anonymity, the jurisdiction, multiple numbers of victims, the volatility of evidence, encryption and the embarrassment or commercial sensitivity of people caught out online, meaning they may not want to report crimes.

All the speakers urged people to report suspected online crime to as “governments will only take action when they know about these things”.

Currently, only a small percentage of online crime is reported.

The next lecture in the Winter Lecture Series, on 20 August, is on the future of entertainment. It will feature Waikato alumna Jesse Mulligan, Cambridge-based author Julie Thomas, The Wireless’ reporter and senior producer Megan Whelan and University of Waikato Associate Professor Geoff Lealand from the Screen and Media Studies programme. It is on at the Gallagher Academy of Performing Arts at 6pm, with the Opus Bar open from 5.30pm.

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