Cybercrime is now the third-most prevalent economic crime in New Zealand, according to the 2011 PwC Global Economic Crime Survey.
Nearly one in four respondents to the survey said they were subject to one or more cybercrime incidents in the past 12 months.
It was the first time cybercrime had been included in the survey.
"The survey shows that cybercrime is taking off," says PwC Forensic Services partner Eric Lucas. "Criminals are becoming more sophisticated in their approach as they have identified how organisations have a reliance on technology, and the fraudsters are acquiring the technical skills to take advantage of low risk and high rewards."
Despite the emergence of cybercrime, New Zealand businesses are not taking the threat seriously, he says. In the survey 39 percent of respondents said they hadn't had any cyber security training in the past year.
There were 93 New Zealand respondents to the survey, nearly half of whom had suffered economic fraud of all types in the past year. New Zealand has jumped up the economic crime rankings for reported frauds, moving from eighth in 2009 (of 54 countries surveyed) to fourth in 2011 (78 surveyed). New Zealand is now in a higher position than Australia (47 percent), the US (45 percent) and the global average (34 percent) for reported levels of fraud among the 3877 global survey respondents.
"Given the uncertain economic environment, the pressures and incentives to commit fraud have not declined since the 2009 survey, but instead appear to have increase," Lucas says.
The survey notes that due to ambiguity around the definition of cybercrime and what it constitutes, respondents may have reclassified some of the more traditional types of economic crimes as cybercrime because these were committed using a computer and the internet.
Cybercrime offers different risks and rewards, the survey says. These include the fraudster not necessarily being present at the location, meaning there was less chance of being caught in the act; less chance of law enforcement being able to identify the perpetrator or determine where the perpetrator was based when committing the crime; given geographic, law enforcement and political obstacles, perpetrators can continue to return to "the scene of the crime" with minimal fear of detection.
"While New Zealand's laws may be more advanced than those of other countries, it is often difficult to prosecute cyber criminals with any impact," the survey says. "Technological advancements are fast paced, which greatly influences cybercrime, to the extent that legislation and corporate policies need to be continually assessed and monitored to ensure they keep track."
The greatest risk of cybercrime, according to respondents, came from: inside the organisation (15 percent); external fraudsters (55 percent); both internal and external perpetrators (27 percent). Three percent of respondents didn't know.
In New Zealand 44 percent of respondents said cybercrime was an internal threat and they believed the risk came from the IT department, whose personnel were expected to have the necessary skills and opportunity to commit such crimes.
But PwC says that irrespective of ambiguity around the definition of cybercrime, it's clear from the results of the survey the threat isn't just coming from the IT department but from across the organisation.