Canada is winning the war against malware

Canada is making some big headway in the battle against malware, with new figures showing our infection rate is just half that of the global average.

Out of every 1,000 computers scanned, just 2.7 in Canada are infected with malware, well below the global rate of seven infected machines per 1,000, new data from Microsoft Corp. shows. The research also shows that while the worldwide infection rate has dipped only slightly since the third quarter of 2011, Canada’s has slid dramatically from about six infections per 1,000 computers to just 2.7 today.

The rosy Canadian picture is probably due to two major factors, said Tim Rains, director of trustworthy computing at Microsoft: Canada’s above average security smarts and IT education programs.

Canada’s malware infection rate has dropped but new threats are attacking our systems at unprecedented speeds, Microsoft warns. (Photo: Shutterstock

“Canadians are pretty savvy about using the Internet, so that is useful. And user education is pretty good here, at least from a malware infection (perspective),” Rains said in an interview following his presentation of Microsoft’s latest security data at the SecTOR conference in Toronto.

He pointed out that kids start learning about IT security fairly early on in Canada compared with some other countries. Canadian service providers are also proactive about circulating security alerts to customers, he added.  

But Canada can’t spend too much time celebrating its cyber accomplishments, Rains suggested, because it needs to quickly shift its attention to a new and massive threat: Blacole, one of the world’s most damaging and fastest growing cyber threats. Blacole literally came out of nowhere to shoot to the top of the list of IT threats in Canada within the past year. Blacole is now the most common IT exploit in Canada, affecting 10 per cent of all infected computers here, and “unless things change I would likely expect for that to increase over time,” Rains said.

“(Blackole) emerged over last six to 12 months from not being on any top 10 lists,” Rains said. “It’s a drive-by download kit people can buy from online black markets that allows them to set up a Web page and when unsuspecting users visit that page, it loads and has a whole bunch of hidden exploits.”

Crunching some other numbers from the Microsoft report, miscellaneous Trojans are the most common threat category in Canada, detected in 45 per cent of all infected Canadian computers compared with the global average of just over 30 per cent. Yet Canada prevails when it comes to phishing sites, malware hosting sites and sites hosting drive-by downloads, with fewer types of these sites than the global average.

Christine WongChristine Wong is a Staff Writer at and CDN. E-mail her at, connect on , follow her on Twitter, and join in the conversation on the IT Business Facebook Page.

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