Websites belonging to financial institutions and even the national postal office in New Zealand, went down briefly on Wednesday, it is being reported.
Officials with New Zealand’s Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT) confirmed it was a cyberattack in a post on its website.
“CERT NZ is aware of a DDoS attack targeting a number of New Zealand organisations,” it said on its website. “We are monitoring the situation and are working with affected parties where we can.”
So what exactly happened in New Zealand?
Well according to local media reports, affected websites included included Australia and New Zealand Banking Group’s New Zealand site and NZ Post.
In a Facebook post, ANZ told customers it was aware some of them were not able to access online banking services.
“Our tech team are working hard to get this fixed, we apologise for any inconvenience this may cause,” the post said.
Meanwhile Reuters reported NZ Post as telling its customers that the “intermittent disruptions” on its website were due to an issue at one of its third-party suppliers.
In February this year, security firm Neustar, which offers DDoS prevention services, said organisations have seen a massive rise in denial-of-service attacks over the past year, with more attackers now demanding ransoms
It said such attacks rose by 154 percent, or more than two and a half times, in 2020 compared with 2019.
Ransom-related attacks are typically preceded by an extortion email promising a small attack the following day, followed by an attack utilising up to 2TB per second of junk traffic if the ransom is not paid.
It is not clear in if this New Zealand attack has involved a ransom demand.
But this is not the first time New Zealand has been targetted.
In January this year a cyber-attack led to a serious data breach at New Zealand central bank.
Prior to that in August 2020, New Zealand’s stock exchange NSX was offline for two days after it suffered a DDoS cyberattack from abroad.
And in June 2020, the Prime Minister of neighbouring Australia, Scott Morrison, confirmed his nation was the target of a “sophisticated” cyber attack.
The Aussie PM warned that an unnamed foreign government was behind the attack.
One security expert warned that DDoS attacks are sometimes used to carry out other malicious activities.
“Distributed Denial of Service attacks may not constitute as a data breach threat but they can often be used as part of a bigger plan to take the victim’s eye away from the real target,” noted Jake Moore, former Head of Digital Forensics at Dorset Police and cybersecurity specialist at global cybersecurity firm, ESET.
“The menacingly persistent amount of traffic can take down large websites which fail to host the latest up to date DDoS protection and those in charge will be forced to act incredibly quickly as time is money,” said Moore.
“The history of DDoS attack have taught us one thing – expect the unexpected,” said Moore. “The amount of traffic used to take down servers has increased immensely since the birth of IoT and insecure smart devices. The default technology on board is easily abused and can be used with great effect. Those owning any IoT device must insure that the device is properly protect and not using any default security.”