5 Feb 2010

NZ targeted in international internet attack

11:52 am on 5 February 2010

Authorities in New Zealand are investigating reports that New Zealand companies may have been targeted in a sophisticated online scam affecting the European Union's greenhouse gas emissions trading scheme.

The European Commission will be reviewing its internet security guidelines after 250,000 carbon market permits worth nearly six million dollars were stolen in an internet phishing attack and sold illegally.

The scam meant emissions trading registries in a number of EU countries shut down temporarily on 2 February.

The criminals are believed to have created fake emissions registries, the BBC reports.

They then sent e-mails to thousands of firms around the globe, including New Zealand, Norway and Australia.

Seven out of 2000 German firms targeted are known to have fallen victim to the scam, handing over registration details that allowed the thieves to steal their emissions permits.

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Economic Development, which manages New Zealand's emission unit register, says no fraudulent transactions occurred here during the security breach.

In the global carbon market, companies can buy permits from other firms, allowing them to emit greenhouse gases.