eCommerce News New Zealand logo
The latest digital commerce news for Kiwi businesses
Partner content
Story image

Cybercrime in Aotearoa: How does New Zealand law define it?

By Zach Thompson
Thu 23 Jun 2022

‘Cybercrime’ is a term we hear all the time, but what exactly is it, and how does New Zealand define it in legal terms?

The New Zealand Police defines cybercrime in two distinct ways. The first pertains to technology as a target, whereas the second refers to technology as a means to attack.

What is ‘pure cybercrime’?

According to the Crimes Act 1961, sections 249 to 252, the first term used by the Police relates to crimes that involve computers.

This definition further stipulates that cybercrime can only be carried out by using ICT or the internet and has to specifically target a computer or network, irrespective of the overall intent.

This type of crime encompasses computer intrusion, attack on a computer system and malicious software.

‘Computer intrusion’ is likely better known as ‘hacking,’ which, according to the New Zealand Police, means “gaining unauthorised access directly or indirectly to a computer system which can include a desktop, laptop, smartphone, tablet, server or other device regardless of whether it is connected to the internet or not.”

However, the term can also refer to non-physical access, such as entering a social media, email or online banking account.

An attack on a computer system is defined as “any type of offensive act that targets computer data, information, infrastructure, network, cloud or any personal computer devices.”

What constitutes a crime under this definition can vary, including acts such as installing malware on a personal computer, to severely damaging a country’s critical national infrastructure.

In addition, while it may be an intentional act, to be considered a crime, it can also be a reckless act carried out without authorisation and causing damage, deletion, modification or other interference with as well as impairing any data or software in any computer system.

Lastly, malicious software, or malware, refers to “programs that can perform tasks, often discreetly without detection by the user.”

This includes several offences such as software that allows all keystrokes to be recorded on a computer, taking screenshots and accessing files and saved passwords, encrypting personal files to prevent access by the user, allowing discreet remote access to your computer and affording offenders the ability to record from your webcam.

What is ‘cyber-enabled crime’?

Cyber-enabled crime is classed as any criminal act that could be carried out without ICT or the internet but is helped by the use of this technology.

The Police include crimes such as online scams, threats to life or public safety, and possessing or distributing objectionable material in this definition.

Criminal charges

Sections 249, 250 and 252 of the Crimes Act 1961 detail, in particular, accessing a computer system for a dishonest purpose, damaging or interfering with a computer system and accessing a computer system without authorisation, respectively.

“This type of offending covers a wide range of offending from business email compromise (BEC), ransomware attacks, distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks through to gaining access to systems to steal intellectual property,” New Zealand Police High Tech Crime Group detective senior sergeant Greg Dalziel says.

According to Evidence Based Policing Centre data from January 2017 to April 2022, 799 offences that fell under these sections resulted in court actions.

Broken down into sections, accessing a computer system for dishonest purposes saw 113 offences committed in 2017, 142 in 2018, 118 in 2019, 151 in 2020, 108 in 2021 and 26 in the first four months of 2022.

Intent to access a computer system for dishonest purposes noted 16 offences in 2017, 10 in 2018, 6 in 2019, 19 in 2020, 15 in 2021 and 3 so far in 2022.

Intentional or reckless damage or interference with a computer system accounted for three offences in 2017, three in 2018, one in 2019, none in 2020, one in 2021, and one so far this year.

13 offences in 2017 related to accessing a computer system without authorisation, with 17 in 2018, 10 in 2019, eight in 2020, 12 in 2021 and 3 in 2022 so far.

Dalziel notes that the term ‘proceeding’ refers to each separate occasion on which Police dealt with an alleged offender for one or more crimes.

He adds that while proceedings would regularly be classified based on the most serious offence that the offender is dealt with for on a particular occasion, this data takes into account all instances in which at least one of the offences in sections 249, 250 or 252 was involved, irrespective of whether it was the most serious offence.

The dark web

When it comes to the dark web, crimes related to this fall under section 7 of the Crimes Act 1961, which affords the Police jurisdiction when the offence has a specific connection to New Zealand.

According to the Act, “for the purpose of jurisdiction, where any act or omission forming part of any offence, or any event necessary to the completion of any offence, occurs in New Zealand, the offence shall be deemed to be committed in New Zealand, whether the person charged with the offence was in New Zealand or not at the time of the act, omission, or event.”

However, Dalziel says that offences involving the dark web are not usually computer crimes as they are defined in sections 249 to 252 but instead relate to the purchasing and selling of items that are illegal to possess under New Zealand law.

“As such items will come across the border, there may also be a New Zealand Customs Service investigation.”

Asked whether anyone in New Zealand has been charged for crimes related to the dark web, Dalziel says he has an awareness of cases involving the dark web in Aotearoa and that most of these relate to the purchasing or selling of illegal contraband.

“A number of prosecutions have occurred although these cases are coded relating to the illicit item,” Dalziel says.

“For example, importing cannabis seeds would be an offence against the Misuse of Drugs Act 1975.

“The dark web is also associated with child sexual abuse material and a specific team within Police triages these matters when they are reported.”

Who to contact

While the term 'cybercrime' is quite broad in its definition, the Police say that the procedure for reporting incidents is the same as any other offence: dial 111 in an emergency or, for non-emergencies, contact the Police through 105, online or in-person.

Additionally, concerns regarding online safety or digital communications can be referred to Netsafe and cyber security issues to CERT NZ.

Public Interest Journalism Fund logo
Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air.
Related stories
Top stories
Story image
Data Protection
How secure is accounting software data in Aotearoa?
A recent Xero study found ICT spending for NZ businesses has increased 25% compared to pre-pandemic levels, so how safe is accounting software?
Story image
Artificial Intelligence
Salesforce announces new innovations for financial services
Salesforce has launched expanded financial services that offer more targeted and trusted automation to help teams unlock insights, deliver better customer service, and drive operational efficiencies.
Story image
Microsoft
Azure-based technology asBuilt signals better BIM outcomes in NZ
The Microsoft Azure-based asBuilt intelligence hub is helping Kiwi businesses accelerate their building information management potential.
Story image
Digital Transformation
Retailers must invest in new tech to keep up with online shopping demand
There's a higher demand for more purchasing opportunities at our fingertips, as well as greater expectations when it comes to the online customer experience."
Story image
Cloud
Cisco launches AppDynamics Cloud for greater performance
Cisco has launched AppDynamics Cloud, enabling the delivery of better digital experiences by correlating telemetry data from across any cloud environment at scale.
Story image
Manhattan Associates
New late-stage order cancellation to improve customer service
Manhattan Associates launches new service allowing orders to be cancelled up to the point of manifested/loaded status, preventing unwanted shipments and costly returns.
Story image
Contact Centre
Customer service agents don't want to return to contact centres
A new report has revealed that 85% of customer service agents want to work full-time at home and not return to contact centre offices.
Story image
Salesforce
Data crucial to capture shoppers' wallets post-COVID
First-party data strategies key to driving personalisation, customer satisfaction, and long-lasting relationships according to a new report.
Story image
Customer experience
Slingshot partners with Open for single-bill insurance
Slingshot has announced a new partnership with Open that will see house, contents, and landlords’ insurance as well as energy, mobile and broadband delivered on a single bill.
Story image
Data
MYOB improves data visibility and user access with Snowflake
"Solutions such as Snowflake allow us to better understand our customers and make evidence-based decisions on what features work best for them."
Story image
Market growth
Salesforce unveils new offerings for consumer goods companies
Salesforce has announced new products for consumer goods companies to help brands navigate increasing market complexity more easily.
Story image
Metaverse
How the metaverse will change the future of the supply chain
The metaverse is set to significantly change the way we live and work, so what problems can it solve in supply chain management?
Story image
Music
Mastercard reveals first-ever album titled Priceless
Mastercard's music album Priceless has been unveiled at the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity and features 10 songs by 10 artists worldwide.
Story image
MYOB
Multiple digital solutions hindering, not helping, Kiwi SMEs
Research has revealed this disconnection of systems is costing businesses time, money and resources, and posing a strategic risk.
Story image
Cybersecurity
Security driving customer identity & access management adoption
"CIAM allows businesses to embed a secure identity layer into their consumer and SaaS applications, facilitating secure, seamless end user experiences."
Story image
Commerce Commission
ComCom puts electronics sector on notice over resale price maintenance
The Commerce Commission has concluded an investigation into allegations that television manufacturers were engaging in illegal resale price maintenance.
Story image
Cloud
Adobe adds innovations and capabilities to Analytics offering
Adobe's new services in Analytics deliver a single workspace for brands to unify data and insights across all media types, including metaverse and streaming media
Story image
Skills shortage
Tech salaries increase as skills shortage inflates expectations
More technology professionals will receive a pay rise this coming financial year than last, with skills shortages creating a once-in-a-career market.
Story image
Broadband
Mercury launches broadband and fibre packages for NZ customers
Mercury has officially launched Mercury Broadband, giving its electricity and gas customers the ability to add fibre to their existing Mercury account.
Story image
Banking
Banks, PSPs prioritising payment modernisation to compete
A new report gives payment providers a forward-looking view of the evolution of payments and investment drivers for modernisation.
Story image
Training
Employers look to hire inexperienced coders due to skills shortage
"Even inexperienced workers without prior qualifications or experience had managed to pivot to new roles in coding as long as they are willing to upskill."
Story image
Remote Working
Globalization Partners to improve global talent hire
Globalization Partners says the global availability of its services will make it fast and simple for companies to hire and pay anyone, anywhere in the world.
Story image
Collaboration
Informatica expands data capabilities partnership with Snowflake
“Informatica and Snowflake’s deep partnership and joint innovations are critical for customers who are looking to drive value from their data."
Story image
Remote Working
Hands-on review: EcoFlow River Pro Portable Power station
We get hands-on with an extremely versatile device that every remote worker or outdoor enthusiast should consider.
Story image
Entelar
How TruSens air purifiers can create healthier workspaces
The pandemic has heightened our awareness of our own and others’ health, and made us all much more conscious of the environments we work in.
Story image
Microsoft
Digital innovation could shape the future of NZ - Microsoft
With cloud technologies available to more people around the world than ever before, it is not only businesses who will benefit from using them.
Story image
Customer data platform
Adobe updates CDP, puts first-party data front and centre
Adobe has updated its customer data platform (CDP), Adobe Real-Time CDP, to help brands transition from third-party cookies to first-party data.
Story image
Cheetah Digital
Cheetah Digital creates digital success for Starbucks
Cheetah Digital has revealed new insights from its customer Starbucks, demonstrating the success of the company's relationship marketing platform.
Story image
Phishing
Online identity theft is rising in NZ - here’s what to do about it
It may start with a few stolen details online, but it could end with thousands of dollars missing or worse, a reputation down the drain.
Story image
Dark web
Cybercrime in Aotearoa: How does New Zealand law define it?
‘Cybercrime’ is a term we hear all the time, but what exactly is it, and how does New Zealand define it in legal terms?
Story image
Artificial Intelligence
Accenture shares the benefits of supply chain visibility
It's clear that gaining better visibility into the supply chain will help organisations avoid excess costs, inefficiencies, and complexity to ultimately improve their bottom line.
Story image
Web Development
Whitecliffe fosters careers for the future of tech
Do you want a career in Information Technology, Networking, Web Development, Software Development, or are you looking to upskill?
Story image
Cloud
Chatbots gaining momentum in customer service space
Chatbots are gaining momentum in the customer service space, but a human touch still unbeatable, according to a new study.
Story image
Cryptocurrency
NOWPayments launches new service to analyse cryptocurrency fees
NOWPayments has launched a new network fee optimisation solution that analyses current network fees and picks the most profitable option out of the client's payout wallets.
Story image
Infrastructure
Lenovo announces launch of Retail Solutions portfolio in A/NZ
Lenovo has announced the launch of its Lenovo Retail Solutions portfolio across the A/NZ region, which they say will help retailers transform their business and face future retail demands.
Story image
Axway
New financial accounting hub can manage 40 million events daily
The new Axway Financial Accounting Hub can manage 40 million events daily and halve costs and integration time for ERP Finance migration projects.
Story image
Digital wallets
NFTs are ready to disrupt the ticketing world
The last few months have seen NFTs wielded by digital creators to take ownership over their craft and content. Now other industries are beginning to understand the real-world value that these nifty decentralised tokens can provide.
Story image
Artificial Intelligence
Salesforce harnesses automated solutions with new developments
Salesforce has launched Sales Cloud Unlimited, a new feature to help accelerate productivity with AI and automation.
Story image
Christchurch
Enable launches free Wi-Fi in Christchurch city centre
Fibre broadband provider, Enable, and the Christchurch City Council have launched their new Christchurch Free Wi-Fi service in the central city. 
Story image
Cybersecurity
The link between cybersecurity, extremist threat and misinformation online in Aotearoa
Long story short, it's often the case that misinformation, threat and extremism link closely to cybersecurity issues and cyber harm.
Story image
Airwallex
How Airwallex helps businesses achieve globalisation success
As markets continue to shift, businesses need to be able to provide the same quality of service for customers regardless of where they are located around the world.
Story image
B2B
Corpay partners with supply chain platform PracBiz Exchange
Corpay's new partnership with PracBiz’s allows more than 4000 B2B suppliers on the latter's platform to use Corpay's global payments services.
Story image
INTERPOL
Hundreds arrested, millions seized in global INTERPOL investigation
A two-month-long investigation by INTERPOL this year involved 76 countries and clamped down on organised crime groups behind telecommunications and social engineering scams.
Story image
trust
Consumers want personalisation, but don't trust brands with their data
Customers expect personalisation during every brand interaction but they don't trust brands to keep their personal data secure and to use it responsibly.