More than 80 per cent of Kiwis who use the internet have experienced a cyber security breach, but only 39 per cent have then changed their online behaviour, new research shows.
The study results were released today to coincide with the start of Connect Smart Week, formerly Cyber Security Week, aimed at raising awareness of cyber security.
The research, commissioned by the National Cyber Policy Office (NCPO), found 35 per cent of online Kiwis hardly ever change their passwords, and 34 per cent don't have passwords on their smartphones, despite the high risk of devices being misplaced or stolen.
Despite understanding that cyber security attacks are a real threat, 26 per cent of Kiwis don't actually believe they are at risk.
"We hear about horror stories all the time but even so, it's clear a lot of us aren't taking basic measures to protect ourselves online," National Cyber Policy Office director Paul Ash said.
"Improving your cyber security does not have to be expensive or complicated. Taking basic steps like using strong passwords and ensuring your software is always up to date can help to protect you and your personal information.
"Making yourself less vulnerable has a knock-on effect of helping protect all your contacts -- your friends, your family and your business relationships."
A new website launched today, Connect Smart, is also aimed at giving Kiwis advice on how to protect themselves online, and features an interactive quiz to learn more about cyber security.
The initiative is backed by the police, who say it's vital people become aware of the threat a digital security breach can pose.
"In the same way that people lock their cars and take care of their handbag or wallet, people need to ensure they take similar precautions online," Assistant Commissioner Malcolm Burgess said.
It was just as important to secure your smartphone as your tablet and PC, he said.
"Today, smartphones can contain more sensitive information than your computer -- or your wallet -- and often have minimal, if any security measures."
Although the technology may have changed, Mr Burgess said that fundamentally, scam prevention advice remained commonsense.
"Keep your wits about you. If something sounds too good to be true it usually is. Don't respond to emails saying you won the lottery -- you haven't -- it is always a scam, and don't send money overseas to people you have met on the internet."
* Connect Smart Week, formerly Cyber Security Awareness Week, runs until June 22. For more information on how to protect yourself online visit the Connect Smart website at connectsmart.govt.nz
* A police video discussing cyber crime is also available at police.govt.nz
Cyber security stats
83 per cent -- of Kiwis have experienced a cyber security breach.
* 61 per cent -- who experienced a security breach have not then changed their online behaviour.
* 26 per cent -- don't believe they're personally at risk of cyber attacks, despite understanding they attacks are a real threat.
* 35 per cent -- hardly ever change their passwords.
* 34 per cent -- don't have passwords on their personal smartphone.
* 48 per cent -- don't have passwords on their work smartphone.
* 49 per cent -- would only use a transactional website if it looked professional and not dodgy.
* 67 per cent -- would check a website had a secure payment platform before using it.
(source: National Cyber Policy Office)