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Notable difference between Canadian and US cyberthreats

20/01/2016 by Sharon Shahzad


A new publication has identified the differences between cyberthreats seen in Canada and those in the US. Each country’s approach to threat activity was also explained and could help chief information officers to make informed decisions about how to safeguard their organisations.

Natasha Hellberg, a threat researcher for Trend Micro, published a post on her blog about the cyber-risks in Canada. “Our culture, motivations, behaviours and political climate are all unique to Canada. These influence how threat actors here behave,” she explained in the What About Canada, Eh? – The Canadian Threat Landscape blog. The piece follows a previous report from Trend Micro about cybercrime either side of the US/Canada border.

As highlighted in the North American Underground: The Glass Tank report, cybercrime, although related, is distinctly different in Canada when compared with the US. Trend’s global threat communications team member Christopher Budd said: “For instance, just like in the United States there is a cybercrime underground in Canada. But, the Canadian cybercrime underground is smaller and focuses primarily on trafficking in counterfeit and stolen documents and credentials.”

One of the most prominent threats is the OpenCandy toolbar, Ms Hellberg says. This downloadable adware is often installed on computers unwittingly when it is included in other software packages that have been obtained from malicious websites. Once installed, it turns into downloads malware. Other commonly seen threats in Canada were banking trojans, infostealers and adware; meanwhile, DRIDEX continues to be a top threat.

One interesting point made in the report is the Canada hosts very few malicious sites; in fact, only 0.2 per cent of the global traffic to malicious websites is actually hosted in Canadian locations. Of this 0.2 per cent, most result in single IP locations, suggesting that these are circumstances when legitimate sites have been compromised.

Concluding her post, Ms Hellberg stated: “Finally, it was comforting to note that in addition to the lack of underground service/infrastructure offerings, there also appears to be a no market for violent crime-related services. We could not find weapons for sale or murder-for-hire offers, nor ‘all services’ trafficking-type underground services hosted in Canada, or serving a primarily Canadian market. We can only assume that Canadian’s reputation for being nice and law abiding appears also extends to its underground.”

With Canada’s cyberthreat activity being publicised, it could be wise for chief information officers to look at the nation’s policies regarding online threats and make decisions based on these. After all, with threat actors having a distinctly different make-up to those across the border, there could be insights for organisations to implement on their own turf.

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