#CyberFLASH: Protect Your Data While Shopping Online This Holiday Season

22485379278_bbe59da058Over half of Canadians say they are more concerned about identity theft today than they were a year ago.

According to a recent study by Equifax Canada on consumer spending habits online and in stores, 49% of Canadians indicated they are particularly worried about the risk of identity theft when making online purchases.

Even so, 75% of shoppers still plan to make their holiday purchases online this year.

“Data breaches are on the rise and while it’s encouraging that some people are taking steps to protect their personal data, many remain easy targets for identity thieves and fraudsters,” says John Russo, Equifax Canada’s Chief Privacy Officer. “We know these criminals are more active during the run-up to the holidays when people are buying gifts.”

According to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, it is estimated that less than 5% of the total number of fraud victims report their experiences to law enforcement agencies. Fraud-related crime in Canada has ballooned to between $15-$30 billion annually.

“We encourage people to be more cautious when shopping online and to check their credit report regularly,” Russo said.

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#CyberFLASH: Mississauga man first foreign hacker convicted for stealing trade secrets in the U.S.

xbox.jpg.size.xxlarge.letterboxWILMINGTON, DEL.—A Canadian member of a hacking ring is believed to be the first foreign hacker ever convicted of stealing trade secrets in the United States after he was sentenced in Delaware to 18 months in prison.

David Pokora of Mississauga, pleaded guilty in September 2014 to conspiracy to commit computer fraud and copyright infringement.

Prosecutors said he was part of a small group of gaming enthusiasts that called itself the Xbox Underground that gained access to a U.S. Army computer network and targeted the gaming world, including stealing information from Microsoft and others.

That information allowed the group to build its own Xbox One game system before it was released and to secure pre-release versions of video games, including “Gears of War 3” and “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3.”

According to prosecutors, the group stole more than $100 million in intellectual property and other proprietary data.

Pokora, 22, pleaded guilty in September to one count of conspiracy to commit fraud and related activity using a computer. Three Americans in the group have also pleaded guilty and are awaiting sentencing.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Edward McAndrew told The News Journal in Delaware that Pokora’s sentence “is a message that will be heard around the world.”

The FBI says the ring stole more than $100 million in intellectual property and other proprietary data. The cyber theft included software and data related to the Xbox One gaming console and Xbox Live online gaming system, popular games such as Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 and Gears of War 3, and proprietary software used to train military helicopter pilots.

“These were extremely sophisticated hackers. Don’t be fooled by their ages,” McAndrew told reporters earlier this year.

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#CyberFLASH: Police warn of phone scams involving RCMP, Do Not Call List impersonators

image-3Most Canadians should be familiar with calls from companies offering prizes in exchange for information or money. These latest scams take those calls a step further by pretending to be government organizations.

The RCMP released a statement on Wednesday warning Ontarians of fraudulent calls from a group pretending to be the RCMP Integrated Technological Crime Unit. Reported calls have varied, but in one case the operator accused the resident was sending “malicious content” through his or her computer. In another instance, the caller claimed international criminals were hacking into their computer to use it for criminal activity. Individuals were then asked to send money to fix the problem.

The RCMP said it doesn’t contact Canadians to collect fines or taxes, and would never ask for access to a person’s computer.

The CRTC also reported fraudulent calls in a statement made on Tuesday. It said Canadians have been receiving calls allegedly on behalf of the National Do Not Call List. The operator tells the individual their telephone number is about to expire, and asks them for information to re-register.

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#CyberFLASH: 6 tips to thwart identity theft and fraud

rbc-customer-meghann-johnstonFinancial fraud by identity thieves is simpler than victims might suspect, experts warn. But even anti-fraud educators were surprised by the case of Meghann Johnston.

The former RBC customer’s accounts were compromised three times in at least two different branches of the bank, apparently by someone without a client card or PIN who managed to withdraw tens of thousands of dollars.

Although anti-fraud experts noted that Johnston’s case is rare, they said most consumers can avoid experiencing that kind of stress and financial heartache by adopting some new habits and correcting some bad ones.

Beware of oversharing online

Resist the urge to brag. Vacation announcements, life milestones and financial achievements might be interesting news to share with friends, but it can also entice enemies seeking to exploit your social media activity for their gain.

“Everything you post online tells a story about you. It’s your birthday, or you go to this university, or you post that you just got a line of credit from the bank,” said Athena Mailloux, program co-ordinator for the Fraud Examiners’ program at Humber College.

“A lot of people don’t realize when they’re tweeting out all these bits of information, a fraudster’s job is to troll and put the story together to then become you.”

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#CyberFLASH: McAfee’s twelve scams of the holidays

12Scams_PR_FINAL_Orig3-620x250With electronic and online shopping predicted to be at an all-time high this holiday season, Canadian consumers should be extra weary of cyber-attacks, according to Brenda Moretto, Canadian consumer manager at McAfee, now part of Intel Security.

Citing figures that place Canada’s web hosts at the number three spot in harbouring phishing domains, Moretto said that Canadians are “no less vulnerable” to threats such as cyber scams and malware.

In response, the security software company outlined the “12 Scams of the Holidays” that Canadians should be aware of:

  1. Phishing scams through email top the list with emails disguised as shipping notifications and invoices to fit the season. According to Moretto, hackers are trying to capitalize on the increased flow of money to score banking information and other personal details. Consumers are also more likely to click on fraudulent links during periods of high shopping activity.
  2. Fraudulent deals can also make an appearance online or in your inbox, offering unbeatable prices at the cost of your (information). These extend beyond dangerous links to “phony contests on social media and bogus gift cards,” according to an official McAfee statement.

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#CyberFLASH: Most cybercrimes involve fraud, says new Statistics Canada report


OTTAWA – Statistics Canada says police reported 9,084 incidents of cybercrime in 2012, more than half of which involved fraud.

The agency says very few online fraudsters were identified by police.

About 20 per cent of cybercrimes involved threats, with suspects identified in 55 per cent of the cases.

About 16 per cent of reported cybercrimes, or 1,441 incidents, involved sexual matters, including luring and child porn.

Police identified suspects in 31 per cent of cyber-related sexual violations and laid charges in 25 per cent of the incidents.

Overall, there were 33 cybercrimes reported for every 100,000 in the population.

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#CyberFLASH: Government document retrieving websites risky: business bureau


Canadians are being warned to avoid online businesses that claim to be able to get you government documents, like birth certificates, fast.

The CBC’s Aaron Saltzman looked into one website called the Civil Processing Bureau (its URL is canadianbirthcertificate.com) that says it can get documents, like birth certificates, without you having to go wait in line at a government building.

Saltzman spoke to one Ontario grandmother who said she thought the site — which uses official provincial forms — was an actual government site. After she applied for her granddaughter’s birth certificate online and paid $200, she said she never received it.

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Windsor RCMP warn public about computer scam with fake Mountie fine


WINDSOR, Ont. – The Mounties in Windsor are warning the public about a scam where a fraudulent message claims a person’s computer has been frozen by the RCMP after being associated with pornography.

Police say users have complained they’ve been “locked out” of their computers after the pop-up messages demand a “$100 fine” via Ukash, an online cash payment provider.

The messages — which police call “scareware” — also say criminal proceedings will begin against the user if the “fine” is not paid within 72 hours.

The Mounties say the messages are a scam and have not been issued by the RCMP.

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