ChannelLife New Zealand logo
Industry insider news for New Zealand's technology resellers
Story image

The link between cybersecurity, extremist threat and misinformation online in Aotearoa

By Mitchell Hageman
Mon 27 Jun 2022

Cybersecurity threats come in many different forms. While things like malware, bugs and phishing attacks can cause serious harm in their own right, when coupled with threat and misinformation it can often lead devestating impacts.

These kinds of threats are formed in various ways and evade cybersecurity and personal cyber safety measures with ease. Long story short, it's often the case that misinformation, threat and extremism link closely to cybersecurity issues and cyber harm.

Hate speech, threat and extremism are issues that have caused significant problems in Aotearoa, and the root of much of it is unfortunately active in an online environment. Threat actors with sinister agendas covertly break down cybersecurity and threat prevention barriers to promote their own unique brand of hate and extremism, using a variety of tools and systems to cause widespread harm. 

It is often the case that much of the harm is initiated in dark corners of the internet, blocked by complex coding and security technology. It can also be initiated on social media, with large companies struggling to police and monitor with efficient legal security measures. Threat actors hide behind fake profiles, and even with the strongest regulations and cybersecurity and safety measures, misinformation can break down these walls in an instant.

Threat and misinformation come in a variety of forms. Concerning statistics from InternetNZ show that 58% of New Zealanders - up from 42% last year - are either 'extremely concerned' or 'very concerned' about online conspiracy theories. Kiwi's general level of concern about misinformation has also dramatically risen this year, with 66% of New Zealanders being either extremely or very concerned that information is misleading or wrong. The number of people who said they were extremely or very concerned about hate speech online has also jumped from 58% to 65%.

Research like this highlights that we need solid cyber safety and security measures in place to prevent long-lasting damage. 

"InternetNZ wants to see an Internet where everyone in Aotearoa can fully participate online. Scams, cybersecurity risks, and abusive behaviours online are all linked in that they make it harder for people in our community to be safe," says InternetNZ senior policy advisor James Ting-Edwards.

"It is vital that work to address these issues starts by listening to the people most affected by abusive behaviours online, whether these are threats to the security of people's computers and bank accounts, or threats to their personal safety and their ability to go online without facing harassment."

He says there needs to be an extended community effort to prevent threatening behaviour, and laws and technologies can only do so much.

"Governments and online services are well aware of these issues, but the gap we see is a need for more work to include community voices in developing solutions," he says.

"This is not just about laws and technologies, it's about how communities in Aotearoa get a voice in the online environments we participate in."

Dr Ethan R. Plaut from the University of Auckland reinforced that hate speech and threat should be perceived as a matter of our national security, and it is an increasingly prevalent issue worldwide.

"Online hate speech is a matter of national security in multiple different ways," he says.

"This is clearly true in the sense that foreign actors may be involved in the creation and circulation of hateful misinformation, and in the sense that domestic online extremism has been implicated in the radicalisation of people involved in violent attacks, including here in Aotearoa New Zealand.

"These issues also intersect in online attacks against people doing advocacy for Māori, women, racial minorities, and LGBTQ and other vulnerable communities, who are vulnerable to doxxing, threats, and other forms of online attacks."

A prominent example of these types of threats in action can be seen both before and after the devastating Christchurch terror attacks in 2019. 

The perpetrator was highly active in a covert online environment, operating to promote hate and infiltrating various social media platforms to spread it. The terrorist also released a manifesto and live-streamed his actions, causing widespread significant harm. CERT NZ reported a variety of issues in the wake of the tragedy, saying that scammers and attackers were using the tragic event as an opportunity to perform targeted online cyber attacks against New Zealanders. Some of these included:

  • Phishing emails containing links to fake online banking logins. These emails also contained fraudulent bank accounts where victims could make donations for the Christchurch tragedy.
  • The sharing of malicious video files on compromised websites or on social media. 
  • A video file containing footage related to the attack had malware embedded in it, and this malicious file is being shared online. (This could further promote hate and threat)
  • Attackers changing New Zealand websites to spread political messages about the Christchurch tragedy. (This was also prevalent on social media)
  • New Zealand websites receiving threats of denial-of-service attacks, which would take them offline.

So it's clear that cybersecurity and safety intersect with hate speech and threat, so what can be done to help prevent serious issues in the future?

While Netsafe, CERT NZ and other organisations play a key advisory role in helping inform the public of threats and stop the spread of misinformation here in Aotearoa, there is also a collective agreement in place that aims to tackle these issues at the source. The Christchurch Call was formed in Paris on May 15 2019, and acted as a collective agreement from countries around the world aiming to create a safer online environment that stops hate, threat and misinformation in its tracks.

Consisting of over 50 countries and delegations worldwide, the Paris and New Zealand initiated agreement found that outlines collective, voluntary commitments from Governments and online service providers that aim to address the issue of terrorist and violent extremist content online and to prevent the abuse of the internet as occurred in and after the Christchurch attacks. 

The agreement highlights five key points that governments should collectively aim to achieve, with topics ranging from using law and regulation, to supporting frameworks for companies in order to combat hate and abuse online.

While some of the points apply directly to broadcast media, when examining ones relating to cyber safety and security the framework advises:

  • Awareness-raising and capacity-building activities aimed at smaller online service providers.
  • Development of industry standards or voluntary frameworks.
  • Regulatory or policy measures consistent with a free, open and secure internet and international human rights law.

Social media giants such as Meta, Twitter, Google and YouTube are some of the many organisations that have pledged support to the agreement; however it may take years for them to fully implement secure systems and technologies worldwide.

As with many things online, cybersecurity and safety remain distinctly human issues and can often only be adequately solved with a widespread community effort. 

As governments worldwide struggle with increasing threat, misinformation and extremism, there is hope that leadership shown through agreements like the Christchurch Call can promote safer online communities for everyone.

Public Interest Journalism Fund logo
Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air.
Related stories
Top stories
Story image
SmartWatch
Hands-on review: Huawei Watch D smart watch
The Huawei Watch D is the latest flagship smart watch from the Chinese tech giant, and it's further proof that the company is more than capable of competing with the likes of Samsung and Apple in the highly competitive wearable market.
Story image
Smartphone
Hands-on review: OPPO Find X5 smartphone
With the release of the new OPPO Find X5 in March, we got the opportunity to explore another one of their premium devices.
Story image
Review
Hands-on review: JBL Flip 6 portable speaker
Once you switch it on, and listen away for up to 12 hours, you will quickly realise that this is a little speaker looking for a party.
Story image
Tech job moves
Tech job moves - Fastly, INX, Kinly, SmartBear & Vectra AI
We round up all job appointments from July 29 - August 12, 2022, in one place to keep you updated with the latest from across the tech industries.
Story image
Smartphone
Samsung introduces new generation of foldable smartphones
Samsung has unveiled its new range of Galaxy Z smartphones, bringing new developments to the company’s foldable smartphone portfolio.
Story image
Dicker Data
Dicker Data brought on as Acronis partner for A/NZ
The news about the partnership comes in as cyber criminals continue to exploit gaps in traditional solutions and strategies in NZ and across the APAC region.
Story image
Red Hat
Red Hat announces 2022 awards winners for A/NZ region
Red Hat recently acknowledged Australia and New Zealand partners with its annual awards, highlighting partners across various categories.
Story image
Financial results
Jade Software’s plan to get back to surplus in 2022
Jade Software has released its latest financial report, revealing that the company has kept its loss low from $567,000 in FY 2020 to just $153,000 in FY 2021.
Story image
IDC
High level of Customer Identity & Access Management adoption
The study from Okta revealed that the pandemic has either accelerated or highlighted the need for digital-first strategies.
Story image
Home Entertainment
Hands-on review: TCL 65″ C835 Mini LED 4K Google TV
We introduce you today to a TV that brings the height of immersion to your viewing experience: The TCL 65″ C835 Mini LED 4K Google TV.
Story image
Distribution
Garmin expands NZ footprint with new Auckland distribution centre
The facility at Goodman’s Highbrook Business Park will be fully operational from October 2022 and features 3,586sqm of warehouse space.
Story image
Privileged Access Management / PAM
The importance of stopping identity sprawl for cybersecurity
The 2021 Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR) shows that 61% of all breaches involve malicious actors gaining unauthorised, privileged access to data by using a compromised credential. Unfortunately, it is often too late when the misuse of a credential is detected.
Story image
Samsung
New range of Samsung Smart Watches announced with health focus
Samsung has announced new additions to its SmartWatch portfolio, with the Galaxy Watch5 and Galaxy Watch5 Pro to be released in late August.
Story image
Hybrid Cloud
The essential guide to digital transformation by SolarWinds
Digital transformation is a buzzword thrown around all the time by companies, but what does it actually mean and why is it important? SolarWinds breaks it down.
Story image
Application Performance Monitoring / APM
New Relic integrates offering with Atlassian’s Jira Software
New Relic has integrated errors inbox with Jira Software to allow developers to easily access and set up complete stack error tracking and software performance monitoring from within the tool.
Story image
ExtraHop
Organisations exposing highly sensitive protocols to public internet
More than 60% of organisations expose remote control protocol SSH to the public internet, while 36% of organisations expose the insecure FTP protocol.
Story image
Developers
Snyk announces plans to expand partner network in APJ
Recognising that partnerships are critical for growth, Snyk is building an entire partner ecosystem that will drive its expansion across APJ.
Story image
Ingram Micro
Ingram Micro NZ sees $74 million revenue growth in 2021
Ingram Micro New Zealand's latest financial report reveals that its revenue from contracts with customers increased by almost $74 million in 2021.
Story image
LG Electronics
LG Electronics’ revenue in NZ grows by 57% in FY 2021
The New Zealand branch of LG Electronics Australia's total revenue shot up by nearly NZD $45 million reaching a total of $123.7 million for FY 2021.
Story image
Document Management
TrustRadius gives M-Files two document management awards
TrustRadius has recognised M-Files with both a 2022 Best Feature Set and a 2022 Best Relationship award in document management.
Story image
Surveillance
Ministry will no longer accept equipment from Chinese firm Hikvision
The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) says it will no longer accept equipment from a major Chinese surveillance camera maker.
Story image
Arlo
Hands-on review: Arlo Go 2 security camera
In my humble opinion, Arlo Go 2 offers security for anyone needing to keep a remote eye on prized possessions or premises at different locations.
Story image
Google Cloud
Google Cloud to open first cloud region in NZ - among others
Google Cloud has announced plans to bring three new cloud regions, one each in New Zealand, Malaysia and Thailand.
Story image
Artificial Intelligence
Exclusive: NZ-based DEFEND offers global cyber protection
DEFEND supports customers in 66 countries across the globe with a relentless focus on ensuring that every dollar spent on security provides a meaningful return on investment and reduces cyber risk.
Story image
Compliance
Why security needs to shape your journey to the cloud
It's estimated that 80% of workloads could be in the cloud in the next few years. How can you make all that data secure?
Story image
Web application firewall
Radware recognised in KuppingerCole’s 2022 Leadership Compass report
Radware has been named a Product, Innovation, Market and Overall Leader in the 2022 KuppingerCole Leadership Compass report for Web Application Firewalls.
Story image
Home security
Hands-on review: Eufy Wire-Free Dual Cam Video Doorbell 2K
We have had our house secured by Eufy products for over seven months now. We love the brand, and it has never let us down.
Story image
Gigabit
Keysight Technologies and Nokia’s public test of 800GE success
Keysight and Nokia have successfully demonstrated the first public 800GE test, validating the readiness of next-generation optics for service providers and network operators.
Story image
Dark web
Beware the darkverse and its cyber-physical threats
A darkverse of criminality hidden from law enforcement could quickly evolve to fuel a new industry of metaverse-related cybercrime.
Story image
CyberCX
Nozomi Networks adds nine partners to its MSSP program
OT and IoT security company Nozomi Networks has added nine new members to its MSSP Partner Program, and the list includes CyberCX and Deloitte.
Story image
Charity
SnapLogic teams up with meetmagic for charity and children
SnapLogic has announced its partnership with meetmagic, an online Australian platform that combines business and philanthropy.
Story image
SaaS
Cloud and data protection big challenges for NZ businesses
"This surge towards a cloud-first approach meant security and safety became afterthoughts - there's no point being the fastest car on the racetrack if you crash.”
Story image
Gaming
Attacks on gaming companies more than double over past year
The State of the Internet report shows gaming companies and gamer accounts are at risk, following a surge in web application attacks post pandemic.
Story image
Cyber attacks
Dramatic uptick in threat activity with exploits growing nearly 150%
"While it’s not a surprise given increased attack opportunities like remote work, it’s still a worrying development and one we cannot ignore."
Story image
Economics
9 in 10 retailers prepared for economic challenges this year
Some 9 in 10 retailers (86%) are prepared for continued inflation, higher interest rates and potentially lower consumer spending, according to new research.
Story image
Neat
Workplace design a crucial factor for better employee experience - report
The key to a successful workplace could be its design, according to research from Ecosystm and Neat.
Story image
Sustainability
NZ program recovers and recycles more than 177 tonnes of e-waste
The TechCollect NZ pilot program says its milestone of recovering and recycling more than 177 tonnes of ICT e-waste recognises the efforts of many.
Story image
New Zealand
2degrees announces appointments to newly established board
2degrees has announced Liz Coutts as the board chair, while Russell Stanners and Kathy Meads join her as directors.
Story image
Microsoft
Spectralink DECT devices now integrated with Microsoft Teams SIP Gateway
Spectralink DECT devices are now integrated with Microsoft Teams SIP Gateway to help create better results for business-critical frontline workers.
Story image
Machine learning
Sysdig releases CDR offering to combat cryptojacking
Sysdig has unveiled a cloud detection and response (CDR) offering powered by machine learning to combat cryptojacking.