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New CIRA report warns Canadians of malicious cryptocurrency and streaming websites

By Delphine Avomo Evouna
Communications Specialist

OTTAWA, ON – February 10, 2022 – The last few months of 2021 saw a flood of cyber incidents affecting critical infrastructure as well as individual users ranging from online investment scams in Alberta to false Canada Border Services Agency requests for social insurance numbers. To shine a light on the cyber threats facing Canadians, CIRA today released the second edition of its Canadian Shield Insights report.

Analyzing data from the 2.2 million users of its free cybersecurity service, CIRA Canadian Shield, the Q4 Insights report offers a deep dive into some of the trends detected from October to December 2021. The latest edition of the report shows that more than 36 million DNS requests to malicious domains were blocked during the year by CIRA Canadian Shield with a 12% increase from Q3 to Q4.

Malware–malicious software designed to compromise devices–topped the threat charts with 17.3 million blocks, while phishing attacks–scams where attackers use various spoofing techniques to steal user data–saw the biggest rise throughout the year by increasing by 306 per cent from Q1.

Canadians’ interest in cryptocurrency has increased significantly in the past few years, and cyber criminals were paying attention. According to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC), between January and September 2021, the scam with the highest dollar loss was investment scams, where Canadians lost more than $61.5 million. New CIRA data confirms that cryptocurrency was the top source of online scams with 21.1% of all requests blocked coming from cryptocurrency sites in the form of fake pop-up ads and compromised cryptocurrency platforms.

CIRA’s new General Manager for cybersecurity and DNS services, Jon Ferguson notes:

 “Everyone should feel like they can access the internet without fear of threats, scams and attacks. We offer CIRA Canadian Shield service as a free service so that all Canadians can have a safer online experience, and it is a key way we build a trusted Canadian internet through our Community Investment Program,” says Tanya O’Callaghan, CIRA Vice-president, Community investment, policy and advocacy.


Key Findings

  • In 2021, recorded phishing blocks quadrupled, between the first and last quarter of the year.
  • A total of 13.3 million requests were blocked between October and December 2021, the highest quarterly total in 2021 and a significant increase over the previous quarter.
  • Cryptocurrency and online streaming were the top sources of scam sites, accounting for 21.1% of all requests blocked for cryptocurrency sites, and 15.4% for online streaming sites.
  • In December 2021, a total of 91,120 blocked requests were associated with exploitation attempts of the Log4j vulnerability.
  • The report suggests that cybercriminals adjust their scams to peak online shopping hours, approximately 6 pm to 9 pm ET.


About CIRA Canadian Shield

CIRA Canadian Shield is a free cybersecurity service that improves privacy and blocks botnets, phishing, ransomware, and other malware as one of the many ways we build a trusted Canadian internet through our Community Investment Program. 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.