Canadian Underwriter

Stop Cyber Crimes in Small Cities

August 20, 2010   by Saba Taye

Print this page

Residents of smaller Canadian cities are at greater risk of cyber criminals, according to a new study. The study reported that the top three cities at risk of digital crimes are: Burlington, Ont. (population over 164,000 category), Port Coquitlam, B.C. (population over 55,000 category) and Langley, B.C (population over 25,000 category).

John Young, Director of computer forensics, Giffin Koerth

John Young, Director of computer forensics, Giffin Koerth

The study, released by Symantic, a global leader in security, storage and systems management solutions, in conjunction with Sperling’s BestPlaces, an independent research firm based in Oregon, U.S.A., reported rankings that were determined by analyzing cyber attack data, potential malicious infections, as well as third-party data showing online behaviour such as Internet accessibility and the availability of WiFi hotspots.

The study found that residents in these suburbs, more so Burlington, were more likely to own a computer, spend more on hardware and software, shop and communicate online. These actions placed them in greater danger of becoming victims of digital crimes, such as identity theft, than residents in bigger cities such as Vancouver B.C. (with a population of roughly 578,000) which ranked 4th in the list, and Toronto (population of 2.48 million), which ranked 8th on the list.

Marian Merritt, Norton Internet Safety Advocate, says that the results were surprising to many Canadian residents, as well as the Norton team. However, the study’s results showed that being a victim of cyber crime is not determined by boundaries or borders.

“It reminds us that it doesn’t matter where you live,” says Merritt, “cyber crime is an equal opportunity problem.”

She adds that Internet users shouldn’t view cyber crimes as an experience that isn’t likely to happen to them but rather a risk they take each time they go online.

For example, young residents in Port Coquitlam–the city considered the second riskiest in Canada for cyber crime–spent more time online than any other city in Canada.

As such, Merritt suggests always having good security software, that includes anti-spyware and anti-hacking tools. She adds that Internet security software as well as Internet browsers and tools like Flash and Adobe Reader should always be kept up-to-date as old versions can lead to security problems. Updates are always free on your computer and they patch any holes in your cyber connection.

“It’s beyond antivirus these days,” Merritt says. “Sometimes people will see that they need to update their software and they’ll say ‘oh, I’ll do it later’–and then don’t. Do it right away, if not, this increases your risk of cyber crime.”

John Young, director of computer forensics at Toronto-based Giffin Koerth suggests surfing the RCMP’s website at for ways to protect yourself from cyber crimes. In 1998 the RCMP created the Integrated Technological Crime Unit, a unit dedicated to finding cyber criminals.

He says one of the more important preventive measures that people in growing cities, like Burlington, need to implement is setting a password for wireless routers. This prevents people outside of the home from committing illegal activities.

“For example, if I parked my car by your house and used an unprotected wireless connection and then I hacked into something on a website, the real danger in that is your IP address is where the activity would originate from and technically you could be investigated for civil or even criminal offences,” explains Young.

© Copyright 2010 Rogers Publishing Ltd. This article first appeared in the June 2010 edition of Canadian Insurance Top Broker magazine.

This story was originally published by Canadian Insurance Top Broker.