Cybercrime: Where Does Canada Stand?

21 March 2016

Identity theft is no longer the physical process it once was. Just as our bank statements and pay stubs have turned from paper to data and now arrive in our inboxes rather than our mailboxes, identity theft has also become a largely virtual occurrence. While burglars still snoop around empty homes or unattended trash bins looking for snippets of information, they have been overshadowed by those who have adapted to the new digitized landscape.

Every year, cybersecurity company Norton tracks the impact of web-based crime on consumers around the world, publishing its findings in an annual Cybersecurity Insights Report. With the growing amount of financial and personal data we store on our smartphones and computers, this data is more relevant to identity theft protection now than ever before. Let’s take a look at how Canadians fared.

The impact

To provide a bit of context, let’s start by taking a look at the total impact of cybercrime on the Canadian population. Last year, it cost consumers a total of $2 billion (CAD). In addition to the financial loss, it took each victim in Canada an average of 11 hours to deal with the effects of this crime.

With such high stakes on the table, it should come as little surprise that 85 percent of Canadians said they would be devastated if their personal or financial information was compromised. That’s nearly the same as the percent who reported feeling worried about becoming a victim (86 percent), suggesting Canadians understand just how massive an impact cybercrime and ID theft can have on their lives.

Knowledge gap

Even though Canadians seem especially in tune with the threat of cybercrime, the Norton report suggests they have a long way to go when it comes to protecting themselves. Perhaps one reason consumers in Canada feel so vulnerable to online crime is that only 11 percent say they feel completely in control over their online security. While it is true that there is no surefire way to completely protect oneself from the actions of cybercriminals, the Norton data suggests Canadians could do a better job of boosting their protection. Only 63 percent of Canadians report they would know what to do if they became a victim of cybercrime: that’s a failing grade!

Risky behaviours

One way Canadians can better protect their identities is to eliminate behaviours that could put their personal information at risk. According to the Norton Report, nearly three in 10 Canadians who admitted to sharing passwords have done so with the password for their bank account.

Plus, Canadians report being less worried than the rest of the world when it comes to having their kids accidentally do something that could put the entire family at risk of cybercrime. However, although children are more comfortable today than ever navigating computers and smartphones, they still have a lot to learn when it comes to security. Consider installing parental controls and virus protection on your shared devices to deter your kids from accidentally downloading malware from unsecured websites.

Even if you are the most careful consumer in Canada when browsing the web, however, there is no way to guarantee you will not be targeted by cybercriminals. Signing up for a credit monitoring service like Identity Guard Canada can help you augment your identity theft protection.