Hackers are on the move again, and this time they are planting themselves in Canada – most likely because of its very clean cyber reputation.

However, that reputation was thrown out the window after IT security company Websense shared its figures for the first quarter of 2012. Canada now ranks second in the world for phishing scams – pushing down known offenders like Russia and Egypt. Our country now hosts 170 per cent more phishing sites than during the same time last year – only Egypt has seen more growth than Canada in sites hosting crimeware. In the past eight months, a 53 percent increase in bot networks has occurred – and Canada came in second place for hosting bot networks.

Though there has been an overall decline in malicious websites recently, Canada’s decline has been much slower than other countries, and the overall increase in cybercrime moved Canada up from 13th place worldwide last year to 6th place this year – and that number is on the rise.

“Everyone likes Canada, so when people see something coming from Canada, they tend to trust it more,” Patrik Runald, director of security research at Websense, told the Montreal Gazette.

Because phishing scams usually target people in the country in which they operate, this increase in Canada puts Canadians at greater risk for these kinds of scams.

Runald also noted that malicious sites stay up longer in Canada compared to other countries, which could mean the internet service providers here aren’t attentive enough in finding and shutting down dangerous websites.

The solution? Runald says this increase means the Canadian government needs to provide tougher legislation to fight cybercrime.

Here are a few tips to prevent cybercrime on your computer:

Use a firewall. This monitors traffic between your computer and the internet, and serves as the first line of defense in keeping intruders out.

Beware what you click. Never click any links from someone you do not know – these could take you to fake websites asking for your personal information, or it could download malware to your computer.

Surf safely. Be watchful for phoney websites that ask for personal information and use a search engine to help you find the correct address since it will automatically correct misspellings. A common scam tactic is starting a website with a slightly misspelled address.

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Keep your security software updated. Hackers can access your information in a variety of ways, so comprehensive security software is the best way to protect yourself at all angles.

Use strong passwords. Although it’s easier to remember short passwords that reference dates and names in your life, those are easy for a hacker to guess. A complicated password keeps your information safe.

Sources: Websense, Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada, CBC, Montreal Gazette

Photo ©iStockphoto.com/ Carlos Oliveras

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by:
Lisa Lagace