A Cybersecurity Expert from TELUS Online Security Provides Thoughts And Tips To Keep Canadians Safe During Fraud Prevention Month

As our lives continue to become increasingly digital, from embracing the full-time shift to remote work to turning to online banking and tax filing as the new norm, protecting ourselves from online threats is more important than ever. Because frequent readers of my blog will know that there are lots, and lots of threats out there. With more threats appearing every day. That’s why I connected with cybersecurity expert and director of TELUS Online Security, Leigh Tynan to get her views on what’s happening in Canada and what Canadians can do to keep themselves safe during Fraud Prevention Month and beyond. Many thanks to her for her thoughts and tips for this article.

What do you think are the reasons behind the increase in fraud that is being seen in Canada?

Amidst the pandemic, we’ve been online more than ever before and have been sharing more information. Because of this, cybercriminals have more opportunities to take advantage of our digital footprints, especially during times like tax season. As our lives continue to become increasingly digital, it’s important to take the time to protect ourselves through services like TELUS Online Security Powered by Norton, a multi-layered solution that helps protect your devices, online privacy and identity. In fact, TELUS Online Security is currently offering Canadians a free 3-month trial to experience firsthand this simpler way to stay safer online: https://www.telus.com/en/online-security/standard-free-trial 

What more must be done in your opinion to protect Canadians (specifically seniors) from fraud?

My best advice is to educate yourself and help pass that education on to others who may not have the same resources available to them, like seniors. We set up cameras so we can see what’s going on outside our homes, if we ride a bike, we lock it up when we leave it and we wouldn’t give our car keys to just anyone. Yet arguably our most valuable possession, our identity, we often forget to protect. We need to be aware of the cyber threats out there, and take action to safeguard ourselves.Some actions Canadians can take to help protect themselves from fraud include:

  • Ensuring you have the most up to date software on your computer or mobile devices and subscribe to a device security service to protect you from malware, ransomware,viruses, spyware and other online threats.
  • Creating complex, unique passwords to protect yourself. We put ourselves at immenserisk if we have the same password, or few passwords across all our apps, loyalty programs, banking sites etc. I understand that people feel overwhelmed by all the passwords needed today, so I suggest using a password manager to help keep them all straight. They are simple to use and coordinate across all your devices.
  • Using a VPN to mask your online activity from spyware or online hackers. Most of us use VPN’s all the time for work, but we forget we are at just as much risk in our personal lives.
  • Never trusting a Wi-Fi connection that isn’t your own. I would like to reinforce that if you are going to use public Wi-Fi, please ensure you are protected by a VPN.

What about business related fraud such as business email compromise, executive spoofing, and the like? Are you seeing an increase there?

While TELUS is not selling business-level cyber security solutions, fraud is also on the rise for Canadian businesses. With less than two in five Canadian businesses reporting they feel they can fully detect and fend off cyberattacks (according to a recent report from KPMG) and with Canadian corporations being the third biggest victims of ransomware attacks in 2020 and 2021, behind only U.S. and U.K, it’s more important than ever that Canadian consumers and businesses alike take measures to protect themselves.Whenever you engage with a site online, you’re leaving them with your personal data. This includes seemingly harmless activities like shopping online and signing up for a rewards program. All it takes is for one of these organizations to be hacked for your data to be packaged up and sold online to hackers and identity thieves. This growing trend, which has targeted high profile companies like the Canada Revenue Agency and Canada Post in 2021, has implications for consumer information.

What do you think is the security posture of Canadian businesses and do they need to do more

While it is great that Canadian consumers and businesses are starting to become more aware of cybersecurity and fraud risks, we need to do more to personally educate ourselves and others to understand what steps we need to take to protect ourselves. Cybercriminals are upping their game, and it is time that we up ours to protect against the risk.

A great educational tool is TELUS Wise, a free digital literacy education program that empowers Canadians to stay safe in a digital world. TELUS Wise offers informative workshops and resources on topics like protecting your online security, privacy, and reputation, rising above cyberbullying, and using technology responsibly.

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