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McAfee Canada Alert: Complex Passwords; Infection Rates of Canadian-hosted URLs

McAfee's infographic illustrating the infection data for suspicious Canadian-hosted URLs in 2012

McAfee’s infographic illustrating the infection data for suspicious Canadian-hosted URLs in 2012

McAfee Canada would like to call your attention to two pressing security concerns that Internet users need to watch out for, and provide some tips on how to stay safe online. With the recent Evernote breach of 50 million passwords leaked, McAfee Canada would like to remind users to be aware of and protect against security threats (some of which are coming from our fellow Canadians), and cultivate safe surfing habits.

Canada-hosted URLs and their infection rates

According to recent data from McAfee Labs, Canada is hosting a growing number of suspicious Internet URLs and increasing the amount of spam being sent out of the country. As of October 31, 2012, 78 per cent of suspicious Internet addresses hosted in Canada pose high risk for Internet goers, and 59 per cent of Canadian-hosted URLs contain malware. From Q2 to Q3 2012, the spam volume sent from Canada by infected computers connected to botnets has increased by 33 per cent, and during the same period, the number of new computers in Canada joining a botnet has increased by 25 per cent. Please see above for the infographic illustrating the infection data for suspicious Canadian-hosted URLs.

This data is an important reminder that cybercriminal activity is happening right in our own backyard. The fallacy that “it can’t happen to me” is false when our own neighbours are trying to steal our personal data. It’s important for Internet users to protect themselves with security software and refrain from risky activities (risky searches and risky online behaviour) while practicing safe surfing. For more information, check out this blog post from Brenda Moretto, Canadian Consumer Sales Manager for McAfee Canada.

The Evernote hack and the importance of complex passwords

The latest news of the Evernote hack (as well as the security breaches to Dropbox, Microsoft, Apple, and Facebook) is a good reminder to all Internet users on the importance of maintaining an ever-changing and complex password. A secure passphrase may be the only thing standing between your personal data and those who wish to steal it. McAfee recommends that all Internet users, regardless of whether they were affected or even have an Evernote account, change all of their passwords immediately, because chances are that they haven’t updated them recently.

While many websites utilize encryption measures to secure data, it needs to be known that the longer a password remains the same, the more likely it will be discovered by someone seeking to gain access to private and confidential information.

Changing your password ensures security by:

  • Revoking access to any unauthorized person with access to your account
  • Restarting the process for anyone trying to break your password

Some tips from McAfee for best practices regarding password security include the following:

  • Change your password frequently, and make it stronger after every change
  • Use a different password for every password-protected account. Otherwise, if someone is able to gain access to one password, he will literally own your online presence
  • It’s always a good idea to use letters, numbers, and symbols in passwords:
    • This makes it harder for hackers to guess your password

McAfee Canada maintains a website called The State of Consumer and Enterprise Security in Canada (http://mcaf.ee/canadastats) in order to provide a one-stop shop for writers looking for information on a variety of trends and issues affecting and shaping the Canadian security landscape.

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