Like plumbing, heating and electricity, your computer is an important utility in your home and office. You depend on it for entertainment, communication and business, so it is vital to keep it healthy. But as our reliance on the Internet grows, sophisticated hackers and cyber thieves begin to prosper in their flourishing trade.
Websense this week released their third annual Canadian Cybercrime Report Card. In the report, Canada was ranked third in the top 10 countries for hosting advanced malware. The spine-chilling statistic will cause any computer user to consider the problem less as an annoyance and more of an epidemic.
“Canadian cyber-criminal activity is quickly evolving and taking on more nefarious forms,” says Carl Leonard, senior manager of security research for Websense. “Hackers are moving away from the broad ‘spam everyone’ approach because it only yields cents on the click. They’ve set their sights on much more targeted attacks where social engineering of the actual user can turn into millions of dollars in potential criminal profit.”
Canadian websites have an increase of 25% of malware hosting every year. The cause can range from compromised Internet service providers to vulnerable content management platforms such as WordPress. Regardless, Canada has become a safe haven for hackers and cyber thieves.
“ISPs really, should take a responsibility to monitor for malicious behaviour. ISPs really need to make it harder for the bad guys,” Leonard said. “Legislation can certainly help in that regard. When the public and private sector work together … that would make it more of a challenge.”
Websites hosting malware tend to stay up longer in Canada than in other countries, because security software often fail to flag them or has difficulty pinpointing who is responsible for an attack. Investigations can take years before police are allowed to take the infected website down. By that time most cyber-criminals have abandoned their post and have moved on to another part of the Internet.
“Ultimately it comes down to communication across boundaries,” Leonard said. “There is a good deal of information circulating in law enforcement globally. I don’t believe all of that is shared.”