Rights & Money

Cybercrime Has Hit More Than Half of Canadians

 A report from a new initiative raises questions about the safe use of technology

By Erika Morris


More than half of Canadians report having been the victim of a cyber crime, according to poll results released July 9.

In a survey of 2,000 adults conducted in May, 57% said they had been victimized in some way. The poll was undertaken by the Cybersecure Policy Exchange (CPX), an intitiative of Ryerson University in conjunction with RBC and Rogers Cybersercure Catalyst. The project aims to increase awareness of technology’s challenges while pushing for public policy solutions to cybersecurity and digital privacy concerns.

The most reported cybercrime was infection by malicious software such as malware and viruses, with 31% of respondents having been affected. Other common threats included having personal information exposed through data breaches, having an online account hacked, or interacting with a deceptive e-mail or website.

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to dramatic changes in the ways we use technology in our everyday lives. We are now increasingly dependent on our devices for work, to stay connected, and even for contact tracing.

“Cybersecurity has quickly become one of the most important issues of our time,” RBC Chief Security Officer Laurie Pezzente in a statement. “Questions of privacy and security are paramount for all Canadians and policymakers, and proper governance of these issues will ultimately contribute to a more prosperous and equitable world.”

CPX is focussing on three different aspects of cybersecurity: social media, the Internet of things (networked devices in the home or industry), and facial recognition. When it comes to social media platforms, only 15% of Canadians trust Facebook to keep their data secure, though 55% of Canadians use Facebook Messenger. However, 62% of Canadians trust the federal government and 73% trust healthcare providers. Almost 70% of Canadians have a smart device at home.

The report announcing the poll results also indicated that more people are expressing concern over their privacy than a year ago.

“With the proliferation of smart devices, our extensive reliance on social media for communication, and the threats that facial recognition pose to our society and democracy, it is clear that the responsible governance of technology to protect Canadians’ security and privacy online is becoming even more complex and important,” the report concluded.

Photo: iStock/Jaruwan Jaiyangyuen.