News / Canada

Cyber crime: How real is the threat?

With the announcement of new domain names such as  .porn, .lol and .google replacing traditional .com and .org domain names,  experts say the new web addresses could boost cyber crime.

The new domain names, which in some cases will be practical and others comical, not only give web hosts more options but they also give cyber criminals more targets.

"It might be easier to get fooled into going to illegitimate websites," says Ashvin Goel, an associate professor at the University of Toronto who specializes in data protection.

"The chance of phishing attacks will be higher because there will be new domain names."

In addition to unfamiliar web addresses, the new domains will include non-latin characters, which Goel says makes setting up fake sites even harder.

Mac users have long felt a sense of security against viruses and other cyber attacks, but the problem isn't unique to the Windows operating system, Goel says.

"Traditionally, Windows had a high level of security. But since they were configured in a way that made they easy to use, they were also more vulnerable."

A recent survey by internet security software maker Norton Antivirus, found that 60 per cent of Canadians have experienced cyber crime.

"It's a very real threat," says Goel. "There's so much incentive for hackers because there's so much money involved."

While identity theft and credit card fraud are the big worries when it comes to internet offences, the study also considers phishing attempts,  as well as sending virus' and spam as cyber crime, says Lynn Hargrove, Director of Consumer Solutions, Symantec Canada.

So how do you protect yourself?

Using secure wifi connections, strong passwords and an antivirus, say both experts.

"If you leave your house door open, it doesn't matter what locks you have," says Goel. "You need to know how to use locks and in the same way, you need to know how use antivirus software."

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