CBA warns Canadians not to take risks with their 'cyber hygiene'

The pandemic has escalated the risk of phishing attacks but too many Canadians take big risks with their financial security

CBA warns Canadians not to take risks with their 'cyber hygiene'
Steve Randall

In an age where mask wearing and hand washing has become part of the daily grind, it’s easy to demote longer-term risks.

But the Canadian Bankers Association is warning that too many of us are less than vigilant when it comes to protecting our personal and financial data online, at a time when cyber threats are increasing.

It quizzed almost 8,000 Canadians in October to test their ‘cyber hygiene’ and found that while more than 8 in 10 were confident in their ability to spot a phishing attempt, only 3 in 10 were able to identify all the red flags.

Underestimating the increasingly sophisticated nature of the emails used by scammers, more than half of respondents believed that spelling errors made these emails easy to spot.

"Banks go to great lengths to keep Canadians' money safe and protect their personal and financial information, but the realities of a connected world mean that cyber threats are not limited to our systems and technology," says Neil Parmenter, President and CEO of the CBA. "In the digital era, security is a shared responsibility and Canadians have a role to play. To that end, the banking sector is committed to promoting cyber security best practices to help customers better protect themselves and their devices against a rising tide of digital fraud."

Increased threat
Earlier this year, a report from cybersecurity experts at McAfee warned of a “deluge” of malicious internet addresses and “more capable threat actors” had emerged in the first half of 2020.

It also ranked Canada as one of the top 10 targeted countries and North America reported the most publicly disclosed security incidents of any region.

Malware was the top technique used by cybercriminals – 375 threats per minute in the first quarter of 2020 - and individuals were significantly more likely to be targeted than industry sectors.

However, there has been a sharp rise in attacks on industry cloud services, with financial services among the top 5 industries targeted with a 575% increase in threats in the first quarter compared to the previous three months.

Password strength
While all of this is concerning, there is some good news from the new CBA survey, produced in association with Optimity.

Canadians are ensuring that the passwords they use for their most important online accounts are more secure.

More than 8 in 10 know that having a strong password is important and a similar share knows not to share login details with anyone, including partners and family members.