Computer Crime Research Center


Computer crime: survey found Canadians fearing hackers

Date: November 25, 2005
By: Sarah Staples

Two new national surveys have found disturbing admissions by Canadian companies of their vulnerability to hackers, and evidence that consumers overwhelmingly fear their personal information is at risk of being stolen online.

A poll sponsored by a subsidiary of Capital One Financial Corp., released yesterday, found 77 per cent of Canadians were concerned about identity theft, yet 45 per cent don't monitor credit reports regularly to check for errors or suspicious loans.

A second telephone survey by Fusepoint, a Mississauga IT management firm, Symantec Corp., and Sun Microsystems of Canada, Inc., found that eight in 10 Canadians feared for personal information, such as credit card numbers, stored in Web-accessible databases.

In that survey of 565 Canadian consumers and business leaders, also released yesterday, 14 per cent of Canadians admitted they'd had their identity stolen by various means, including Internet scams.

Consumer fears appear justified: 57 per cent of companies answering the Fusepoint poll admitted they were "only somewhat confident at best" in their IT department's ability to withstand a hacker attack.

Businesses admitted both their own confidential data and private details of customers are threatened, even though 96 per cent of firms polled had already established protections.

"People haven't been asleep in the wheel; they've invested in different types of technology and data security," said George Kerns, chief executive of Fusepoint Managed Services Inc. "But they're still not confident they've got it licked."

From January to October , there were 9,034 victims of identity theft in Canada, totalling $7.2 million in losses, according to PhoneBusters, an RCMP-associated agency that collects statistics submitted by victims and police. According to Mr. Kerns, executives are more concerned employees might mistakenly download viruses, spyware or adware than they are about hacker intrusions.

The result is that Canadians are not only losing faith in the ability of businesses to patrol their IT networks and safeguard customer information; they are increasingly willing to take a stand, Mr. Kerns said.

Thirty-seven per cent would consider a lawsuit against a company that left personal information open to attack.

Capital One commissioned Ipsos Reid to poll 2,002 Canadians, yielding a margin of error of plus or minus 2.2 percentage points. Fusepoint's survey, by Leger Marketing, is considered accurate within 4.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.
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