The number of Canadian servers being targeted by hackers has increased sharply, according to an IT security company that compares cybercrime rates around the world.
San Diego-based Websense Inc. argues that hackers are taking advantage of Canada’s “squeaky clean” cyber reputation, which may no longer be as well-deserved as many believe.
A growing number of malicious sites are hosted on Canada's internet service providers, allowing criminals to carry out cyber attacks on Canadian and international users.
Websense figures for the first quarter of 2012 show that:
- Canada ranks second worldwide for hosted phishing sites — ahead of well known offenders like Egypt and Russia — and hosts 170 per cent more phishing sites than during the same time period last year. Only the U.S. is worse.
- Cybercriminals have increased the number of remotely controlled computers that run malicious software, leading to a 39 per cent increase over the first quarter of 2011 in so-called bot network activity.
- The number of malicious websites hosted in Canada has ballooned by 239 per cent since last year.
"Things are getting worse — simple as that," said Patrik Runald, the company's director of security research.
Canada's increase in cybercrime is part of a worldwide trend. Despite the sharp spike in numbers, Canada ranks sixth in the world, the same position it held during last year's study.
Hewlett-Packard's security division, DVLabs, said at a cybersecurity conference in Toronto on Tuesday that 50,000 phishing sites are discovered worldwide monthly.
Runald said malicious content had typically been hosted in places like eastern Europe, but in 2012 criminals have continued to focus on places like Canada, the U.S. and France.
"The bad guys are looking to host their malicious content in countries that have good reputations," he said.
The increase in phishing sites, which try to fool users into giving private information, was a particularly strong trend, according to Websense — a publicly traded company that specializes in web, data, and email security products, services, research and technology.
Canada had one of the highest increases in that area, the report said.
Runald said it's logical to infer that more Canadian phishing sites means more Canadians being targeted, though there is no data on the locations of victims. Examples he sent to CBC News included scams purporting to be from TD Canada Trust and Canada Post.
This year's report mentions many of the same issues that arose last year: Canadian IP addresses don't face the same scrutiny as those from other countries; Canada hasn't seen large cybercrime crackdowns like in the U.S.; and businesses aren't as aware of the issue as they could be.
Runald said the problem can be dealt with on multiple levels. For example:
- Companies must be aware of what data is important to them, where it is and how to protect it. Too many companies only know that their information is "on the computer" without knowing what that means, he said.
- Internet service providers should do more to notify site owners when they notice a site has been compromised.
- Governments can use tougher legislation to fight cybercrime.
"It typically doesn't get better," Runald said. "For Canada, getting out of the top 10 would be a good move."
<strong>2010 RANK:</strong> 22 <br><em>Springbank Park, London Ont. </em>
<strong>2010 RANK:</strong> 21 <br><em>Downtown Regina, Saskatchewan.</em>
<strong>2010 RANK:</strong> 28<br><em>Radisson Plaza Hotel and the Harbourfront Kingston, Ontario</em>
<strong>2010 RANK:</strong> 23<br><em>On the road, Barrie, Ontario.</em>
<strong>2010 RANK:</strong> 31<br><em>Halifax Harbour</em>
<strong>2010 RANK:</strong> 11<br><em>Parliament Hill, Ottawa, Ont. </em>
<strong>2010 RANK:</strong> 7<br>
<strong>2010 RANK:</strong> 9<br><em>Kelowna, B.C.</em>
<strong>2010 RANK:</strong> 10<br><em>Kitchener, Ontario.</em>
<strong>2010 RANK:</strong> 6<br><em>Oakville Post Office.</em>
<strong>2010 RANK:</strong> 12<br>Victoria had the analysis' highest number of Wi-Fi hotspots, at 170 per 100,000 population. However, spending on internet access and personal computers was the lowest out of the top 10 cities.
<strong>2010 RANK:</strong> 13<br>Edmonton scored high in the categories of Wi-Fi hotspots, spending on personal computers and Internet access. Social networking use by Edmonton residents was the lowest in the analysis, at 37 per cent of the population. <br><em> Edmonton Skyline from Sherwood Park</em>
<strong>2010 RANK:</strong> 16<br>New Westminster rose significantly in the rankings, up to #8 from #16 in 2010. There were 34 Wi-Fi hotspots per 100,000 population and 48 per cent of New Westminster residents use social networking. <br> <em>British Columbia's Fraser River</em>
<strong>2010 RANK:</strong> 8<br>Toronto's spending on personal computers was among the highest. The number of Wi-Fi hotspots was also high. But social networking use among Toronto residents was near average.
<strong>2010 RANK:</strong> 14<br> Social networking use was the highest in the analysis, at 60 per centof the population. <br> <em>New Brunswick Fredericton October 2011 Gavin Langille-18. </em>
<strong>2010 RANK:</strong> 5<br>Calgary had the lowest ranking among the cybercrime data in the list of top ten Canadian cites, but the second-highest spending on Internet use and personal computers. <br><em>Beltline Area, Calgary, Alberta, (January 29, 2007).</em>
<strong>2010 RANK:</strong> 3<br> Langley dropped slightly in this year's analysis, falling one spot in the rankings from #3 in 2010. Reported cybercrime data was all in the 90th percentile. <br><em>Fort Langley British Columbia.</em>
<strong>2010 RANK:</strong> 4<br>Vancouver rose one spot in the rankings since the 2010 analysis. It had the third-highest incidence of spamming IP addresses, and a high level among the other cybercrime data sets. Vancouver also had the second-highest number of Wi-Fi hotspots per capita and high social networking use.
<strong>2010 RANK:</strong> 2<br>Port Coquitlam, B.C. again ranked second in the analysis, scoring at the top in the majority of the categories surveyed, including cybercrime data per capita. Port Coquitlam also reported high numbers of social networking use. <br> <em>Canadian Pacific Railway yard, Port Coquitlam BC</em>
Burlington maintained its #1 ranking from the 2010 analysis. It reported the highest scores among the cybercrime data per capita in three of the four cybercrime data factors. Burlington's internet use and computer expenditures were also high.