Rights & Money

New Free Cyber Threat Blocker Released

The government has launched a tool that can boost your cybersecurity

By Erika Morris


Canadians have recently been receiving fraudulent e-mails and texts promising advances on government payouts only to have their personal information stolen. Now two government bodies—including our cyber spy agency—have released a tool to protect people from online threats after a rise in such scams.

The Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA) and the Communications Security Establishment (CSE—Canada’s signals intelligence agency) worked together to produce the CIRA Canadian Shield, a free protected domain name system (DNS) service that prevents you from connecting to websites that might infect your devices viruses or steal your personal information. CIRA contributed the technology and CSE is providing intelligence on which web addresses are threats. Now, the technology used to protect government devices is available to all Canadians.

The system is free and has three levels of service—private, protected, and family. The private setting allows for better online privacy, but offers no cybersecurity or filtering. The protected setting (the level CIRA recommends) adds malware and phishing protection to prevent you from opening scams by blocking the page. The family feature allows for pornographic content blocking. The program is also available for Android and IOS devices.

The project had been in the works for a while, but with more people working from home on unsecured networks, the threat of phishing scams has risen. People may no longer have access to the cybersecurity their office network provided and be more vulnerable. Others may not be able to tell when a page is a scam, so the program simply prevents the malware from being opened in the first place.

Some have expressed concern that the program could lead to government censorship, or prevent Canadians from accessing safe sites by mistake, but the Canadian Shield system will be subjected to annual privacy testing by a third-party.

“As Canadians have shifted to working and learning from home en masse due to COVID-19, their personal devices and home networks are vulnerable to cyber-attacks,” CIRA said in a statement. “Canadian Shield will provide enterprise-grade privacy and cybersecurity protection.”

You can install the program by going to CIRA’s website, where you’ll find setup instructions.

Photo: iStock/RapidEye.