Ransomware attacks are on the rise in Canada, says cybersecurity expert

There were 305 reports of ransomware attacks to the Canadian Centre for Cyber Security last year, up from about 295 the year before.

Ransomware attacks targeting Canadians and Canadian organizations are getting more sophisticated by the day.

The head of the Canadian Centre for Cyber Security, Sami Khoury, emphasized the urgency of addressing the issue, and says there’s a lot that the country can do to defend itself.

“The threat is real, the threat is growing and we can’t talk enough about it,” said Khoury, as shared by CP24.

According to the report, ransomware attacks used to focus on hacking into systems and demanding money in return for releasing the hacks. Now, however, the attacks focus more on hacking into systems and stealing data and sensitive information that can be sold. Khoury says that companies have become more sophisticated and have backups in case they get attacked and locked out of their systems, and thus, attackers go after information and data that they can profit from.

The report suggests that such incidents have become far too common, and Khoury considers cybercrime to be the number one threat facing the nation. For reference, there were 305 reports of ransomware attacks to the Canadian Centre for Cyber Security last year, up from about 295 the year before. Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children, Indigo, Sobeys, and Suncor Energy Inc. have all been victims of ransomware attacks over the last year. However, he says the actual number is nowhere near the number reporter. “I can assure you the real number is nowhere near that…The real number might be closer to add a zero maybe to it,” he said.

He says that companies are too embarrassed to report they’ve been impacted by cybercrime, and that is where the discrepancy between the reported cases and the speculated actual number of cases comes from. He also advised organizations to take preventive measures such as using strong and unique passwords, enabling multi-factor authentication and educating themselves about security risks.

Khoury said being safe from cybersecurity threats is paramount, especially in light of the geopolitical tensions involving Russia, Ukraine, China and other countries.

Khoury said he remains optimistic that Canada can defend itself against cyberattacks. “We can absolutely make a difference. I don’t want to leave you with a feeling of hopelessness,” he said. “There’s a lot of good tools, a lot of good advice…and if something small happens on a network and you can call us and we will help you diagnose it.”

Source: CP24