Canada is a world capital for cybercrime, with the distinction of being the No. 2 country for phishing scams, according to a survey by the San Diego-based web security firm Websense Inc.
Phishing scams are generally sent out to mass recipients in the form of email, often telling a user his or her account has been compromised, and then asking the recipient to enter banking information on a phony copy of the website of a bank or other institution.
The scams have been around for many years, and scammers rely on low rates of success in order to reap windfalls.
The Annual Cybercrime Report Card by Websense showed that there was a 170-per-cent increase in phishing sites being hosted in Canada.
"Everyone likes Canada," said Patrik Runald, the director of security research at Websense. "So when people see something coming from Canada, they tend to trust it more."
Before speaking with Postmedia News, Runald received an email claiming that it was representing Canada Post, saying that a delivery was waiting for him, and asking him to verify personal information.
Runald explained that phishing scammers tend to target people in the country where they are operating, so an increase in phishing sites in Canada means that Canadians are also at greater risk to fall victim to the scams.
He said the reason for the increase seems to be that countries like Romania, and Russia are becoming well known breeding grounds for cybercrime, so scammers from those countries are moving their operations here.
The report card found Canada to be ranked sixth overall in cybercriminality. There was a 39 per cent increase in "bot networks" - networks of tens of thousands of compromised machines called drones or zombies that run malicious software - and malicious websites.
There was also a 239 per cent increase in malicious websites, which the company defines as sites that contain code that may intentionally modify end-user systems without their consent and cause harm.
Runald said malicious sites seem to stay up longer in Canada than most other countries, so that could mean the Internet service providers aren't as diligent as they should be in seeking out dangerous sites and shutting them down.
Peter Cassidy, the secretary general of the antiphishing working group, said scams are getting much more sophisticated.
In many cases, bots can take on the identity of a victim's friend and send out an email or a message on Facebook with a malicious link. Despite this evolution, however, Cassidy said the level of success of the scams is incredibly low.