Canada shoots to sixth place in global cyber crime list
Canada’s cyber crime landscape has undergone dramatic change in the last year, according to a new Websense Inc. report. Canada not only has ranked second in the world for hosting phishing sites from January to May of 2011, but it’s also suffered a 319 per cent jump in the number of servers hosting those phishing sites.
 

“This is the first time ever we’ve seen Canada in the top three,” said Dan Hubbard, chief technology officer with Websense Inc., a San Diego, Calif.-based security technology vendor.

Canada has typically not made it to the top 10 countries hosting phishing sites. The top five countries are the U.S., Canada, Egypt, Germany and the U.K.

As for the dramatic growth rate in the number of servers, already numbering in the tens of thousands, that host malicious sites, Canada is only second to Egypt.

Hubbard said it’s difficult to ascertain the reason behind the marked change in Canada’s threat landscape, but it may be related to the recent crackdown on cyber criminals in the U.S. organized at the federal government level. Also, hackers are probably on the move as IP addresses in China and Eastern Europe have recently undergone intense scrutiny.

Websense also found an increase in bot nets in Canada by 53 per cent in the past eight months. That rise in number has resulted in a second-place ranking for Canada in the world.

Overall, Canada’s global ranking for countries hosting cyber crime has climbed to number six. Hubbard pointed out that in 2010, Canada was much lower down the list with a ranking of 12 or 13.

The sort of attacks originating from Canada aren’t any different from what they may be in another country, said Hubbard. That said, the only difference, geography-wise, is cyber crime targeted at the banking sector.

“You’re not going to go after a Russian bank in Canada,” said Hubbard.

And, while cybercrime itself has not changed much across the years, Hubbard said it’s the level of sophistication that is different over time.

In March, Symantec’s March 2011 MessageLabs Intelligence Report found that, in Canada, spam accounted for 79.4 per cent of e-mail received, and malware accounted for one in 160.1 e-mails, according to the March 2011 MessageLabs Intelligence Report by Symantec Corp.
 

While the figures are a tad higher than the global spam rate, trends in Canada’s threat landscape have consistently followed rather closely the global rate, said Paul Wood, senior analyst for MessageLabs Intelligence with the Cupertino, Calif.-based security vendor.

 

“Canada has always featured prominently in terms of the spammer output,” said Wood.

What makes Canada particularly alluring to spammers is the existence of lower-priced pharmaceuticals compared to those in the U.S. that fit rather well with spam strategies. “A lot of spam relates to pharmaceutical products and to make that attractive to the U.S. audience, they dress them up to appear as genuine Canadian pharmacies,” said Wood.

However, watching the distribution of botnets around the world reveals some interesting shifts, said Wood. The U.S. has always been a dominant contributor of spam output, but now other countries are catching up. Russia was top of the spam output list in March, accounting for 12 per cent of global spam. India and Brazil followed closely behind.

Follow Kathleen Lau on Twitter: @KathleenLau



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