‘The number of attacks is going up every year:’ survey finds 32 per cent of Canadians experience online scams

Eaton Centre mall with people walking in and out of stores. With a giant statue of a deer in the middle.
Every year the amount of people shopping increases. For Canadians 76 per cent purchased physical goods online. Photo by Owen Thompson.
Owen Thompson - CJRU - TorontoON | 15-12-2023
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Nord Security, provider of VPN service NordVPN, found that 32 per cent of Canadians have experienced a scam while shopping online.

The survey was conducted on Oct. 16 - 27 by external companies. They surveyed a thousand for each country surveyed including Canada.

In their data they found that a third of Canadians have faced some scam during the holidays, Black Friday and Cyber Monday. This year, they found a five per cent increase to 32 per cent. Nordsec says that more than two million Canadians have been scammed during “bargain hunts.”

The Canadian Centre for Cybersecurity found that there were over 70,000 reports of fraud as it the "most common form of cybercrime." From the reported incidents, "over $530 million was stolen in 2022," with Statistics Canada finding over 82 per cent of Canadians shopped online in 2020.

The two million Canadians from Nord Security data is not surprising, says Sumit Bhatia, professor of emerging technologies at Toronto Metropolitan University and former director of innovation and policy at Rogers Cybersecure Catalyst.

“We see the number of attacks is going up every year. The number of people shopping online is continuing to rise every year as well. We're seeing a greater volume of transactions every year,” says Bhatia. “We saw in October, a three fold increase in domains using the words Black Friday. They weren't originally domains that had been associated with big brands and the words Black Friday tagged along. Folks often forget to note some of those things. And those are the ways that scammers are trying to get people's attention by having deals that look too good to be true.”

Bhatia says that holidays see more “diverse groups of shoppers” and that surge makes a “perfect playground for attackers and scammers” to capitalize on. Bhatia says that due to the diversity of the shoppers during the holidays not just one generation is affected by scams.

“I see the type of scams being different across generations, that are seniors, we see a lot of attacks that have to do with banks, banking information and your email interception,” says Bhaita. “Whereas we see a different kind of scam happening with Gen Z's, we see them being a bit more lackadaisical with passwords, we see a little less concern over privacy… but I would say that the number of attacks are not necessarily restricted to a generation of a particular age. We're seeing it spread across quite evenly now.”

When shopping online Bhatia says to not give out more information than what is needed. This sentiment is shared with Marijus Briedas, chief technical officer at Nord Security. Briedas says that Canadians are willing to give out a lot of personal information when buying with a sale online.

“When you are buying a product or a service, think about only the list information you can provide. It's usually your credit card number and maybe name and the data on the credit card. And that's usually enough,” says Breidas. “We see that more than 80% of Canadians are willing to hand out more information, or even their kids' names. Think about what you need to provide when you are shopping on a legitimate website and don't give more. That's the basic rule.”

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