ChannelLife New Zealand logo
Industry insider news for New Zealand's technology resellers
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
Tech job moves
Tech job moves - Bitdefender, Cohesity, Fortinet & MODIFI
We round up all job appointments from June 27-30, 2022, in one place to keep you updated with the latest from across the tech industries.
Story image
Financial results
Margins & revenues up at New Zealand arm of Acer Computer
We look at the local financial statements of Taiwanese manufacturer Acer Computer Inc.
Story image
Robotics
Evonik relies on Getac F110 tablet to control autonomous robot
The aim of the project is to evaluate the practicality of an automated robotic maintenance and inspection solution in the chemical industry.
Story image
Design
Hands-on review: Phillips Hue starter kit
The set-up was one of the simplest I have ever had to do. It is also where the products shine. I was able to connect the bridge, the three lightbulbs and the strip within 10 min.
Story image
Microsoft
SAS wins Microsoft ISV 2022 Partner of the Year award
"We formed the SAS and Microsoft strategic partnership with a shared goal of making it easier for customers to drive better decisions in the cloud."
Story image
Microsoft
TO THE NEW unveils A/NZ Managed Services for Microsoft Azure
TO THE NEW has released Managed Services for Microsoft Azure to meet the growing demand in the A/NZ market and globally.
Story image
New Relic
New Relic looks to observability market with new partner programme
New Relic has announced the availability of New Relic Partner Stack, an enhanced programme expanding New Relic’s commitment to partners.
Story image
Identity and Access Management
Ping Identity named a Leader in Access Management
Ping Identity has been named a leader in the 2022 KuppingerCole Leadership Compass report for Access Management. 
Story image
Internet of Things
ManageEngine wins big in IDC MarketScape assessment
ManageEngine's Endpoint Central service has been recognised as a leader by IDC MarketScape in several categories including Internet of Things device deployments and UEM software for SMEs.
Story image
Hybrid Cloud
Advent One acquires Layer 8 Networks, complements hybrid cloud offering
The acquisition comes at a time of surging demand in hybrid cloud, network virtualisation and network security.
Story image
Hybrid workforce
Why hybrid working is here to stay and how to ace it
Citrix's new report reveals hybrid workers are more productive and engaged at work than their office and completely remote counterparts.
Story image
Cyber Criminal
Identity and access: the fight is on
Blue team defenders are used to protecting our data, applications, and users with access controls and other security mechanisms, which is why attacks like this are especially challenging when they target identity and access control systems.
Story image
Finance
Airwallex launches global payment services in New Zealand
The launch will enable businesses in New Zealand to tap into Airwallex's global payments services, offering an alternative to traditional banks.
Story image
Great Resignation
New SAP study uncovers impact of 'the great resignation'
Coined in 2021, the phrase 'the great resignation' refers to millions of employees globally leaving their jobs. The phenomenon is real and impacting SMEs.
Story image
Cybersecurity
Blasé attitudes to cybersecurity by business a national risk
The largely unregulated state of cybersecurity in NZ, and consequential ambivalence of most businesses, risk hurting the country's trading prospects.
Story image
Ransomware
Secureworks reveals new information on BRONZE STARLIGHT threat group
New research from Secureworks has uncovered new information on the Chinese threat group BRONZE STARLIGHT and how they are using targeted ransomware to initiate complicated attacks.
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
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
Cybersecurity
Vulnerable APIs costing businesses billions every year
Large companies are particularly vulnerable to the security risks associated with exposed or unprotected APIs as they accelerate digital transformation.  
Story image
Awards
Microsoft names A/NZ Partner of the Year award winners
The awards recognise partners across the globe for their innovative use of Microsoft technologies to help customers succeed.
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
Gaming
Hands-on review: 16GB PNY XLR8 Gaming EPIC-X 3600MHz DDR4
PNY sent over its 16GB XLR8 Gaming EPIC-X 3600MHz CL16 DDR4 module kit for testing. The kit contains two 8GB dual-channel modules with RGB lighting.
Story image
Cybersecurity
Tech and data’s role in the changing face of compliance
Accenture's study found that 93% of respondents agree or strongly agree new technologies such as AI and cloud make compliance easier.
Story image
WatchGuard Technologies
Ransomware volume doubled 2021 total by end of Q1 2022
Ransomware detections in the first quarter of this year doubled the total volume reported for 2021, according to a new report. 
Story image
Microsoft
ASI Solutions named finalist of Microsoft Surface Partner of the Year
"ASI Solutions has a strong Microsoft focus, building value by helping customers maximise investment in modern workplace solutions."
Story image
Oracle Cloud
Commvault, Oracle to deliver Metallic Data Management as a Service
"We are excited to partner with Commvault and enable our customers to restore and recover their most mission-critical cloud data."
Story image
Cybersecurity
Zero trust security adoption rises 27% in just two years
A survey of WAN managers has revealed that multi-factor authentication and single sign-on are the top zero trust features implemented.
Story image
Mergers and Acquisitions
SAS acquires Kamakura to propel risk technology innovation
Underscoring SAS growth in the domain-specific solutions space, the acquisition will enable SAS to greatly enhance the breadth of its risk solutions portfolio. 
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
Samsung
Monitors are an excellent incentive for getting employees back
The pandemic has taught us that hybrid working is a lot easier than we would’ve thought, so how can the office be made to feel as comfortable as home? The answer could be staring you in the face right now.
Story image
Cybersecurity
Why is NZ lagging behind the world in cybersecurity?
A recent report by TUANZ has revealed that we are ranked 56th in the world when it comes to cybersecurity - a look into why we're so behind and what needs to be done.
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
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
Hybrid Cloud
HPE GreenLake advances hybrid cloud experience with new services
"The innovations unveiled today further build on our vision to provide the market with an unmatched platform to spur innovation and drive transformation.”
Story image
Citrix
The best ways to attract young talent during labour shortages
New research from Citrix reveals hybrid working and ventures into the metaverse are top of mind for Gen Z workers.
Story image
Public Cloud
Public cloud services revenues top $400 billion in 2021
"For the next several years, leading cloud providers will play a critical role in helping enterprises navigate the current storms of disruption."
Story image
Cloudian
Cloudian, Vertica to deliver on-premise data warehouse platform
"We’re enabling our customers to capitalise on a leading object storage platform and maximise the value of their digital assets.”
Story image
HP Inc
Firmware attacks significant threat in age of hybrid work
Changing workforce dynamics are creating new challenges for IT teams around firmware security, according to new research.
Story image
Cybersecurity
Zscaler launches co-located data centres in Canberra and Auckland
The investment will offer public and private sector enterprises greater resilience in support of their zero trust cybersecurity posture.
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
Cybersecurity
FIDO Alliance releases guidelines for optimising UX with FIDO Security Keys
The new guidelines aim to accelerate multi-factor authentication deployment and adoption with FIDO security keys.
Story image
Cybersecurity
Email threats spike 101%, remains a top attack vector
"Each year we see innovation in the threat landscape, but each year email remains a major threat to organisations."
Story image
Sustainability
Honeywell launches new carbon energy management software for buildings
The new Carbon & Energy Management service allows building owners to track and optimise energy performance against carbon reduction goals, down to a device or asset level.
Story image
BitTitan
How to achieve your monthly recurring revenue goals
Monthly recurring revenue (MRR) is the ultimate goal, the most important issue on which anyone in the IT channel should focus.