Canadian Underwriter

Going phishing with COVID as the lure: How many Canadians rose to the bait

March 9, 2021   by Jason Contant

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Canadian cyber insurers take note: Canada ranked within the Top 20 countries for COVID-themed cyber threat detections last year, according to cybersecurity company Trend Micro.

Globally, Trend Micro detected nearly 16.4-million cyber threats over the course of 2020, including malicious URLs, spam, and malware. The vast majority (88%) were email-borne spam threats, such as phishing attempts that used COVID-19 as a bait to lure someone into providing personal and financial information.

Canada accounted for a total of 153,584 of the total COVID-themed cyber threat detections last year, placing it in the 18th spot of the Top 20 countries, Trend Micro said in a press release late last month. The United States had the highest number of COVID-themed cyber threat detections, with over 6 million, according to the cybersecurity company’s report, A Constant State of Flux: Trend Micro 2020 Annual Cybersecurity Report.

Despite the ranking, Greg Young, vice president of cybersecurity at Trend Micro, said “Canada’s position on this list indicates that users across the country are applying security best practices and are maintaining steady IT hygiene when it comes to enhanced threats developed during the pandemic. We know that there is always more to do when it comes to security, and advise consumers and businesses alike to ensure they are running secure devices and have the training they need to stay safe.”

Interestingly, the report found insurance at the bottom of industries globally when it came to those hardest-hit by ransomware attacks (2,002). Government (31,906), banking (22,082) and manufacturing (17,071) were the most targeted industries.

According to Trend Micro, it blocked 62.6-billion cyber threats in 2020, a 20% year-on-year increase. Attacks on home networks globally surged 209%, reaching 2.9 billion, as cyber criminals adapted quickly to the mass shift to distributed working caused by the pandemic.


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