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CIRA report warns Canadians of cryptocurrency and streaming sites

Malware topped the threat charts with 17.3 million blocks, while phishing attacks saw the biggest rise throughout the year by increasing by 306 per cent from Q1.


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CIRA has released the second edition of its Canadian Shield Insights report to educate Canadians on cyber threats.

The organization says that the last few months of 2021 have seen a flood of cyber incidents affecting critical infrastructure as well as individual users ranging from online investment scams in Alberta to false Canada Border Services Agency requests for social insurance numbers.

The company analyzed data from the 2.2 million users of its free cybersecurity service called CIRA Canadian Shield. The company says their research showed that more than 36 million DNS requests to malicious domains were blocked during the year by CIRA Canadian Shield with an increase of 12 per cent from Q3 to Q4.

Malware topped the threat charts with 17.3 million blocks, while phishing attacks saw the biggest rise throughout the year by increasing by 306 per cent from Q1.

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According to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, between January and September 2021, the scam with the highest dollar loss was investment scams, where Canadians lost more than $61.5 million. New CIRA data confirms that cryptocurrency was the top source of online scams with 21.1 per cent of all requests blocked coming from cryptocurrency sites in the form of fake pop-up ads and compromised cryptocurrency platforms.

“Malicious actors have become more sophisticated and persistent in their attacks and the fact is, even with increased awareness and training on these cyber threats, some attacks inevitably get through. Much like providing antivirus software to home users, offering a secure firewall to protect against malware will greatly reduce the risk to the average Canadian online and I am very proud to be involved in CIRA’s Canadian Shield as it brings this critical security layer to the home user,” said Jon Ferguson, CIRA’s new General Manager for cybersecurity and DNS services in a statement.

Key Findings

  • In 2021, recorded phishing blocks quadrupled, between the first and last quarter of the year.
  • A total of 13.3 million requests were blocked between October and December 2021, the highest quarterly total in 2021 and a significant increase over the previous quarter.
  • Cryptocurrency and online streaming were the top sources of scam sites, accounting for 21.1 per cent of all requests blocked for cryptocurrency sites, and 15.4 per cent for online streaming sites.
  • In December 2021, a total of 91,120 blocked requests were associated with exploitation attempts of the Log4j vulnerability.
  • The report suggests that cybercriminals adjust their scams to peak online shopping hours, approximately 6 pm to 9 pm ET.


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