The increasing availability of generative artificial intelligence tools is unlocking new cyber security fears for Kiwi consumers, according to a study by Norton.
Fifty-four per cent of 1010 New Zealanders surveyed said they were concerned about AI shopping scams and 64 per cent believed there were more scams around during the holiday season than at other times of the year.
Further, 61 per cent worried that older loved ones would fall for bogus sales offers and 44 per cent were concerned about falling for sophisticated shopping scams themselves.
The average amount lost by New Zealanders through holiday scams stands at $700.72, with the highest reported loss being $20,000.
Of the 27 per cent who reported being targeted by a scam during a previous holiday season, 37 per cent fell victim, around 10 per cent of all respondents.
Of these, half were scammed on a social media platform, 40 per cent on a third-party website, 24 per cent by text/SMS, 24 per cent over the phone, and 20 per cent by email.
The most common scams were online shopping scams (56 per cent), followed by charity scams (30 per cent), and postal delivery scams (21 per cent).
The sophistication of online scams had increased with the popularity of tools such as generative AI, said Mark Gorrie, managing director of Norton APAC.
"Kiwis should be vigilant and consider using smart tools to help protect themselves and loved ones against scams,” he said.
A further study, commissioned by Mastercard, revealed up to 132,000 small businesses in NZ had experienced cybersecurity issues. Of those, 29 per cent said they had experienced financial losses.
Despite an increase in cybercrime, over a quarter (27 per cent) of small businesses in NZ had been forced to make cuts to cybersecurity due to rising cost pressures, with 64 per cent claiming they were actively trying to scale down business costs amidst the cost-of-living crisis.
Small business leaders were "laser-focused" on revenue-driving activity such as customer acquisition (72 per cent), client relationships (60 per cent) and growth (53 per cent) before cyber security (18 per cent), with the latter being cited as their lowest priority.
Cost was the primary barrier to small businesses exploring their cybersecurity options (51 per cent), with a lack of knowledge on the solutions available (34 per cent). Sixty-five per cent felt they would benefit from simple cyber security resources to get them started.
In that case, Mastercard teamed up with 17-year-old ethical hacker Henry Jackson to educate small businesses on common cyber security vulnerabilities and arm them with easy-to-understand, actionable insights to secure their systems better.
A ten-part series, Cyber Secure in 60 Seconds, is available today on Mastercard’s YouTube and Instagram channels to empower small business owners to take action regarding cyber security.
Norton is using AI in its products to bolster consumer security, including a free AI-powered advisor called Genie trained on millions of scam messages to help people stay ahead of the fraudsters.
At the top end of town, as reported yesterday, scams and extortion attempts have overtaken state-sponsored attacks as the leading threat, according to the National Cyber Security Centre.
Norton's survey also revealed that in order to obtain gifts this holiday season, local online shoppers were willing to take actions that could potentially put their security at risk.
10 per cent said they would share their personal information to get the right gift while nine per cent said they would click on a social media ad or email for a gift.
A small number still said they would consider purchasing from a questionable website or buy from a questionable third-party seller (five per cent), and two per cent said they would be willing to try to find a high-demand gift on the dark web.