More than half of Canadians admit to have been a victim of cybercriminals


The pandemic impacted more than just our way of living. As the world slowly adapted to social distancing and a work-from-home environment, our view on digital privacy and cybersecurity has emerged as a leading challenge. With much of our daily routines shifting online, Internet users experience unprecedented challenges from cybercriminals that have stepped up their game, readjusting to the new normal.

According to a report published by the Cybersecure Policy Exchange at Ryerson University in Toronto, 57% of Canadians said they have been a victim of some form of cybercrime. The findings highlight a significant increase from 2017, when only 36% of the respondents reported such attempts.

“Internet users around the world are reporting greater levels of concern about their online privacy than they were a year ago”, researchers said. “More access points, increased connectivity, and therefore more opportunities for threats to target weak spots.”

The survey was organized in mid-May, and polled 2,000 citizens in an attempt to “understand Canadians’ experiences, choices and priorities toward their cybersecurity and digital privacy”.

Among the self-reported cybercrime experiences, the unintentional install or download of malware was mentioned by 31% of the respondents. 28% claimed to have experienced a data breach that exposed personal information, and 22% had an online account hacked.

Surprisingly, only 13% admitted to have been a victim of a phishing attack, and 8% unintentionally installed or downloaded ransomware on their computers.

The report also emphasized a significant increase in digital consumption, revealing the top online activities during the first two months of social distancing:

• Online banking (87%)
• Online messaging and video calls (79%)
• Online shopping (77%)
• Social Media (76%)
• Online News (74%)
• Online Healthcare (19%)

When asked to express their view on the security of personal data, a majority of Canadians trust government institutions, banks, and healthcare providers to keep their information safe. On the downside, just 15% of the respondents trust social media platforms, such as Facebook, to keep their data secure. The results are as expected though, considering the privacy scandals that revolved around these platforms over the past years.

Moreover, social media platforms have been a consistent target for cybercriminals focusing on committing a range of fraudulent schemes, exploitation, and identity theft.