Canadian Feds launch anti-cybercrime campaign

Minister of Public Safety Vic Toews lauched the 'Get Cybersafe' website for 'Cyber Security Awareness Month' in Ottawa on Monday. Minister of Public Safety Vic Toews lauched the ‘Get Cybersafe’ website for ‘Cyber Security Awareness Month’ in Ottawa on Monday. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

The federal government has launched a national campaign aimed at stopping cybercrime and helping Canadians protect themselves online.

The month-long campaign hopes to encourage Canadians to take responsibility for protecting their personal and private information from hackers and identity thieves.

“Cyberattacks represent one of the biggest threats facing Canada today,” said Public Safety Minister Vic Toews at the campaign launch in Ottawa. “Canadians want to know that their private information stays private.”

The minister noted that as more and more Canadians use digital technologies in their private and professional lives, they are more and more vulnerable to new violations of their privacy and personal security.

Toews noted that Canada’s “competitive position depends on secure infrastructure.”

One radio advertisement running during the month of October offers tips on secure passwords, while another video advertisement shows a woman deleting an email that says she’s won the lottery.

The new ads also publicize Public Safety Canada’s website, which offers a range of tips about cyber security and aims to educate people about dangers such as phishing, where fraudsters masquerading as co-workers or bank employees try to obtain sensitive information.

The site will also compile information from the RCMP, Canada’s spy agency and the private sector on new cyber threats, such as computer viruses and scams.

The federal government is also beefing up its own online security with training for employees and new software and hardware. Earlier this year Treasury Board and Finance Canada experienced an unprecedented cyber attack that involved phishing. Employees at the two departments have had limited access to the internet ever since.

Toews touted the leadership role the federal government hopes to play in cooperation with provincial/territorial, law enforcement, business and international partners.

Recent federal legislation has targeted identity theft and spam.

The minister also noted the government’s decision, announced in August, to create a new agency called Shared Services Canada, which will centralize government information technology infrastructure and expertise and “make IT more cost-effective, secure and reliable.”

Last week a report by the Conference Board of Canada found most people don’t understand how vulnerable they are online. The conference board called on the private sector and government to help improve Canadians’ understanding of threats such as online crime, espionage and sabotage — yet it found most people also ignore cyber safety campaigns.

Toews noted that while the government is doing what it can, “ultimately it comes down to an individual’s choice that [he/she] make[s] online… Canadians need to do their part in that respect.”


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