Time to Ramp Up Digital Security as More Canadians Lean into Online Solutions

By: Yasmin Ranade

January 28, 2021

online-security-and-privacy-issues-graphic-from 123rfdotcomMcAfee Corp. announced findings from its 2021 Consumer Security Mindset Report yesterday revealing that online alternatives continue to replace activities in people’s lives and routines that were once in-person. Convenience was cited as an important motivation.

Canadian consumers plan to keep using online applications like online banking and e-tailing, for example, which became essential during the pandemic. Specifically, McAfee discovered that Canadians will continue to rely on digital solutions for online banking (78%), personal shopping (63%), and social engagements (59%). McAfee surveyed 1,000 adults over the age of 18 in Canada, with additional surveys conducted in the U.S., U.K., Germany, France, Spain, Australia, Singapore, India and Indonesia.


Not surprisingly, McAfee also probed survey respondents about cybersecurity, and found 3 out of 5 Canadians say they’re worried about cyber risks, but nearly half (45%) don’t feel confident in their ability to prevent a cyber-attack

The more time consumers spend online interacting with various applications and services, the greater their exposure is to potential risks like third-party breaches and also to threats like phishing attacks or fraud.

The survey found 67% of Canadian respondents admitted to being most concerned about their financial data being stolen and 65% were concerned that their personal information, such as birthday or address, could get hacked.

“The first step in protecting ourselves is realizing that there’s a lot we can do to stay safe online and to preserve our digital wellness,” said Terry Hicks, EVP of McAfee’s Consumer Business. “It’s better to prevent a problem then be in a position of having to fix it. We can always work on our own safe online habits – from the apps we install, to the websites we click on, to the emails we open.”

Hicks added, “Making this shift in our mindset and behaviours is a necessity in protecting what we value most – our privacy and identity ….”

While 66% of respondents said they purchased at least one connected device in 2020, only 42% took action by purchasing security software, and 1 in 4 admitted that they do not actually check if their security software is up to date.

Consumers are also becoming more comfortable with sharing information online which is a big risk – especially as services often ask for multiple contact points. Notably, the report found that 70% of respondents indicated to have started using features designed for convenience in 2020, such as paperless transaction records (40%), text and email notifications (35%), and downloading web/mobile applications vs. using desktop sites (31%)

Besides not always taking the necessary security precautions, Canadian consumers admitted that they haven’t really thought about why hackers might want their data. Notably, 61% of  Canadian respondents admitted that they never considered how much their data that is stored and available online is worth.

Security Tips

There are a variety of security tools that can help Canadian consumers to protect their identity and digital behaviours from misuse. McAfee offered some ways consumers can protect themselves:

  1. Use multi-factor authentication to double check the authenticity of digital users and add an additional layer of security to protect personal data and information.
  2. Connect with caution. If you have to conduct transactions on a public Wi-Fi connection use a virtual private network (VPN), like McAfee® Safe Connect, to help keep you safe while you’re online.
  3. Browse with added security using tools to block malware and phishing sites, like McAfee WebAdvisor, if you click on a malicious link.
  4. Protect your identity and important personal information by using safe identity tools, like McAfee Identity Theft Protection, which also helps you recover your information if your identity is compromised

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