Surfing the Internet: The Hidden Risk

By Avery Fry

This article contains sensitive content. 

Surfing on the internet should be safe for everyone, but in reality, it can be one of the most dangerous places. Each and every day, people are using the internet for work, entertainment, school and/or shopping, but there is an unseen threat that lurks just beyond the screen that can strike at any moment without warning. Cybercrime is on the rise and isn’t slowing down anytime soon. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police defines a cybercrime as any crime where a cyber element (the Internet and technology such as computers, tablets, and smartphones) have a substantial role in the commission of a criminal offence. 

Each year, thousands of Canadians across the country are victims of a cybercrime-related violation and the numbers are increasing. According to data collected by Statistics Canada in 2021, 70,288 Canadians reported a cyber-related violation to the police, this is an 8% increase from the prior year of 2020 which reported 65,141 cyber-related violations. In 2018, six out of ten Canadians that used the internet reported experiencing a cyber security incident within the year. 

Last year, fraud was the most reported cybercrime with 33,689 violations reported, followed by 6,592 indecent or harassing communications violations, followed by the making or the distribution of child pornography with 5,445 violations. This year alone, according to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, as of October 31, there have been 75,474 reported cases of fraud. That’s not including identity theft, extortion or any other cybercrime violation. With those fraud cases, $420.8 million dollars have been lost as of October 31, 2022, with only $2.4 million dollars recovered.   

Children, teens and young adults have increasingly become victims and perpetrators of cybercrime. According to a study led by a Michigan State University criminologist, peer influence and low self-control are the major factors in fueling juvenile cybercrime through computer hacking and online bullying.

There are things you can do to protect yourself from becoming a victim of a cybercrime. It’s as simple as keeping your password to yourself and using different passwords for different accounts. According to data collected by NordPass, the most common password in 2022 was “123456” which can be cracked in less than a second.

Another way to protect yourself is to secure your devices. Keep your phone, tablet, laptop, and smartwatch updated and use two-step verification whenever possible to notify you if someone is trying to get into your accounts. Backing up your data to an external drive also helps keep your data off your devices and away from the threat of being hacked.   

If you believe that you are a victim of a cybercrime, you can file a report at your local police station or if you are a victim of fraud, you can file a report directly through the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre

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