With an accelerated shift to a digital economy, consumers, who are being inundated with new information online, are placing greater emphasis on cybersecurity and are seeking out information on how to protect themselves online.
Our latest Interac Corp. Cybersecurity Study* reveals that although 84 per cent of Canadians believe it is more important now than ever before to understand cybersecurity risks, less than half (44%) are confident they can protect themselves.
Phishing is still the number one tactic that fraudsters use to target organizations and individuals. In addition, COVID-19 has created a new environment of haste, unfamiliarity, and vulnerability that cyber criminals can exploit. The positive news is that nearly two in three Canadians (65%) have taken action to learn more about cybersecurity risks.
A key focus of our work at Interac is creating an environment where consumers can transact with confidence: our products and services are built with tools and technologies to help keep consumers safe. Canadians should feel confident using online services, knowing that they are not alone in defending against cybersecurity attacks and by being aware of the additional steps they can take to better protect themselves online.
Consumers, as the first line of defence, are well positioned to detect and prevent fraud. However, the responsibility cannot rest solely with individuals: organizations have a vital role to play to support and protect consumers and employees against cyber threats.
In response to COVID-19, individuals and organizations have implemented and adopted heightened hygiene habits to help protect against the virus: before entering a store, consumers are equipped with extra protection from hand sanitizer to face masks, reduced number of people are allowed into stores at any one time to limit contact, and individuals and companies have increased sanitation measures.
In seeking to transact online, consumers can take similar precautions to enhance their cyber-hygiene before venturing online or opening unknown emails. To help ensure Canadians can transact safely online, Interac offers the following recommendations:
Be vigilant and understand that everyone has a role to play.
While it is heartening to see that many Canadians are taking action to become more cyber literate, many people and organizations still don’t believe they are vulnerable to cyber threats. For example, our Cybersecurity Survey revealed that, due to their minimal online activity, 24 per cent of Canadians have not taken steps to learn more about cybersecurity risks. It is important to emphasize that cyber awareness is everyone’s responsibility, and that Canadians need to be vigilant, recognizing that everyone has an important role to play in guarding against cyber attacks.
Understand what is valuable to an attacker.
With an increase in online interactions and communications, consumers can often feel overwhelmed and more susceptible to clicking on malicious links that expose their personal information to fraudsters. Cyber criminals have become increasingly opportunistic during COVID-19, preying on people’s online vulnerabilities to harvest personal and banking credentials for use later. These synthetic IDs are then used to apply for credit, make online purchases and conduct other nefarious activity. Knowing what is valuable to a hacker is one way to protect your personal information online.
Modify your behaviour to better protect your data. Stop. Scrutinize. Speak Up.
If you have any doubt about an email asking for personal information or a notification of a money transfer or refund you weren’t expecting, don’t feel pressured to respond quickly. If something doesn’t seem right, take the time to investigate. There are many online resources, including those available at the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, to help you find out about the latest scams and what to look for. Consumers should always keep these tips in mind when they are online:
- Only engage with parties that you trust.
- Be extra vigilant when dealing with a new site and/or app until you establish a level of trust with the application or organization.
- Protect and use caution when sharing your personal information.
As the world increasingly moves online, consumers and businesses need to become proactive and remain vigilant in protecting their data online. At Interac we are proud to be leaders in security and recognize the role we play in helping consumers enhance their cyber literacy so they can continue to transact with confidence.
Jason Paguandas is the Vice President, Fraud Mitigation & Strategy at Interac Corp.
* The Cybersecurity Survey is based on a survey of 993 Canadians across the country, conducted September 3 to September 8, 2020.
Photo by Caspar Camille Rubin on Unsplash