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Cybercrooks take advantage of Canada’s squeaky clean reputation

New study franks Canada second overall in hosted phishing sites

TORONTO – Canada ranks second in many things. For example, Canada is No. 2 in international happiness according to the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development. UNICEF ranks Canada No. 2 in terms of quality of life. And Canada also ranks second in the world for hosted phishing sites.

According to a recent study conducted by security vendor Websense, Canada rocketed up the chart by 170 per cent in hosted phishing sites over last year.

Fiaaz Walji, Websense Canada country manager, believes Canada’s great reputation plays a role. For example, Canada has good infrastructure, bandwidth is ample and dot.ca domains tend not to get blocked. This all helps the hackers.

“People think of the Asian and Eastern Bloc nations as those non-reputable countries. All this combined makes Canada a fertile ground for these malicious Web sites,” Walji said.

Avner Levin, associate professor and director, privacy and cybercrime institute, Ted Rogers School of Management at Ryerson University, adds another angle. He has found that governments are increasingly shifting from the old-fashioned cyber crime protection strategy to all-out cyber war.

“They’re more focused on what other countries or terrorists organizations could cause in terms of national infrastructure and not on credit card fraud and phishing scams,” Levin said.

Besides the increase in hosted phishing sites, the Websense study found a 239 per cent increase in the number of malicious URLs and a 39 per cent increase in botnet activity in Canada.

One promising trend Levin is seeing, however, is increased government cooperation with vendors and solution providers in the private sector on these matters. Countries in what Levin calls the Anglosphere, which includes Canada, the U.S. and the U.K., are looking to get more knowledge and security expertise from the marketplace instead of doing it on their own.

“They’re finally realizing there’s a lot of knowledge in the private sector and are trying to capitalize on that. It’s still in its infancy, but it’s starting to develop into a major policy trend,” said Levin, who was a keynote speaker at the annual SC Congress in Toronto.

Walji added that solution providers in the channel will play an important role as middlemen between the customer and the protection they need against these cyber crooks. “Whether its customer or end users they can also provide the feedback to us to help mitigate the risk,” he said.