Editor’s note: Story and map updated with malware data from January 2017

Just as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has asked his Minister of Democratic Institutions to make cyber security her top priority, Ottawa’s malware rate has soared to be more than nine times the national average.

While overall malware infections across the country dipped by almost a third compared to December 2016, Ottawa’s high rate of infections is reaching the highest disparity we’ve ever seen in terms of infection rate for one city. Typically, the holiday shopping season is a busy time for hackers looking to steal financial credentials and malware spikes in December, then returns to more typical levels in January. Our monthly malware update comes thanks to EnigmaSoftware.com.

In terms of city-by-city rankings, Ottawa remains in the top spot this month, ahead of Chatham-Kent and Montreal. Ottawa’s malware surge in recent months is contrary to trends we’re used to seeing on this map, but the reasons for its spike aren’t clear. Ottawa has more overall malware infections than Toronto, a city with three times the population.

At the beginning of February, Trudeau directed Minister Karina Gould to pivot from a focus on electoral reform to a focus on cyber security. While he didn’t name any particular threats to the way Canada votes, he asked Gould to request the Communications Security Establishment analyze political and electoral activities from hackers and release a public assessment.

Ransomware in Canada

We added this new data layer in April 2016, thanks to some data from the Malwarebytes blog. After finding ransomware being spread by a Hamilton, Ont.-based hospital’s website, Malwarebytes took stock of the ransomware situation across Canada. Researchers have ranked this category of malware as one of the most threatening in Canada for several years now.

Since January, Malwarebytes Anti-Malware software detected more than 10,000 instances of the malware affecting Canadians. It provided a top 10 list of Canadian cities most affected by malware, and we’ve added them to our map (look for the yellow briefcase icons).

Canada’s most malware-infected cities

Ransomware and rogue anti-spyware are the worst types of malware afflicting Canadian computers, EnigmaSoftware.com reports. Ransomware variants like CTB Locker and UKash locks off access to computer files and demands money be sent in order to restore access to the information.

Rogue anti-spyware such as Winfix 10 and PC Speed Maximizer create fraudulent messages claiming a computer is infected and then offers to fix the problem in exchange for money.

Cybercrime in Canada

We’ve also updated our cybercrime map of Canada with a new layer of data, showing the police-reported cybercrime from 2013, the most recent data available from Statistics Canada. The range of cybercrime reported by police services in Canada range from types of fraud to threats to crimes of a sexual nature. In 2013, more than half of all cybercrime reported was described as a fraud violation, with 6,203 offenses out of a total of 11,124 offenses across all categories.

Rounding out the top five most-common cybercrimes committed in 2013: uttering threats (786 offenses), child pornography (761), criminal harrassment (735), and luring a child via a computer (638). In sixth spot, identity fraud was reported 580 times, while identity theft was tallied as a separate category and reported 131 times.

Statistics Canada’s data is reported by police services covering 80 per cent of the Canadian population. In Ontario, police services covering 62 per cent of the population reported cybercrime statistics. Notably, Toronto is not included.

York Region was Canada’s hottest region for cybercrime in 2013, with 716 offences reported there. Following was Vancouver with 574, Ottawa with 509, Halifax with 236, and Hamilton with 231.

IT budgets in Canada

Also new to our map is a layer representing an IDC Canada survey conducted earlier this year. It shows how much different regions in Canada are spending on IT security and how much they’d like to spend. Which region do you think is spending the most on security? Find out and read more analysis over on IT World Canada.

Do you have data you think could add to our Malware Map of Canada? Let us know on Twitter by tweeting @itbusinessca.


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  • Laura Butcher

    Interesting…my in-laws are in Burlington.

    • gisabun

      So you trust them less, right? 🙂

  • Brian Bourne

    So the cities where people actually use computers have a higher infection rate than the cities that don’t. Wow, hard to believe.

  • gisabun

    Those reported cybercrime is not the greatest indicator. Not everyone wants to report something that happened to them.