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New data shows Canadian households facing increased cyber threats

By Delphine Avomo Evouna
Communications Specialist

OTTAWA, ON – October 28, 2021 – As Canadians continue to rely on the internet more than ever, new data from CIRA suggests they are facing an increased number of online threats including phishing scams and ransomware attacks. Earlier today, the national not-for-profit released its first-ever CIRA Canadian Shield Insights report, which analyzed millions of blocked cyber threats generated by the CIRA Canadian Shield service between October 2020 and September 2021.

The report found that total volume of blocked cyber attacks recorded between July and September 2021 (Q3) was 31.7 per cent higher than previous quarters. It also identified a steady increase in exposure to sites facilitating phishing attacks–scams where attackers use various spoofing techniques to steal user data–and attributed a significant spike in blocked threats during the month of July to the notorious REvil ransomware. The report comes on the heels of a new survey suggesting that the majority of organizations struck with ransomware simply pay the demands.

“Our data suggests that Canadian households are facing a significantly increased volume of cyber threats,” said Byron Holland, CIRA president and CEO. “Hackers never let a good crisis go to waste, and the pandemic has been no exception. At CIRA, we’re proud of the role we play in promoting trust and protecting Canadians online. While over 2.2 million daily users rely on our free Canadian Shield service to protect their privacy and defend against cyber attacks, a majority of households across the country remain unprotected. Protecting your family from cyber attacks should be as common as locking the front door at night.”


Key Findings

  • The total volume of cyber threats blocked between July and September 2021 (Q3) was 31.7 per cent higher than the average volume recorded in the previous quarters.
  • In Q3 the average number of phishing blocks recorded nearly doubled (93.8 per cent increase over previous quarters), with July seeing the highest monthly total with over 1.5 million blocks recorded.
  • CIRA Canadian Shield blocked 2.2 million DNS requests associated with 15 known botnets in Q3. The high volume of blocks was largely attributed to the REvil ransomware.
  • The report found an increased volume of botnet blocks around midnight Eastern Time (ET), with the highest average number of blocks occurring between 12:00 am and 1:00 am.
  • The U.S. and Hong Kong are the most common hosting locations for malicious domains blocked by Canadian Shield.


About CIRA Canadian Shield

CIRA Canadian Shield is a free cybersecurity service that improves privacy and blocks botnets, phishing, ransomware, and other malware. CIRA has partnered with the Canadian Centre for Cyber Security to integrate its Canadian threat feed into Canadian Shield.

CIRA Canadian Shield is built by Canadians, exclusively for Canadians, and was recently named the default DNS over HTTPS resolver for Mozilla Firefox users in Canada. Earlier this month, CIRA announced its partnership with ScamAdviser, a global leader in anti-scam technology, to integrate protection against fraudulent websites into CIRA Canadian Shield. This added layer of protection will safeguard Canadians’ families against online scams and fraudulent websites.

About CIRA

CIRA (The Canadian Internet Registration Authority) manages the .CA top-level domain on behalf of all Canadians. CIRA also develops technologies and services—such as CIRA DNS Firewall and CIRA Canadian Shield—that help support its goal of building a trusted internet for Canadians. The CIRA team operates one of the fastest-growing country code top-level domains (ccTLD), a high-performance global DNS network, and one of the world’s most advanced back-end registry solutions.