Phishing via internet isometric vector concept illustration Hacking credit card information website Cyber banking attack Online security

Increasingly stuck at home and online due to Covid-19, more than two-fifths of Canadians have faced cybersecurity attacks since the pandemic emerged, according to new data from Statistics Canada.

StatsCan’s latest survey to assess households’ online habits, which was carried out Sept. 14 to Sept. 20, found that online spending has increased since the pandemic, as has social media usage, messaging and online streaming.

Alongside the increased screen time, the research found that cyber attacks are widespread too.

StatsCan reported that 42% of respondents said they suffered at least one online security incident — such as phishing, malware, cyber fraud, or hack attacks — since the pandemic began in March.

Specifically, more than one-third (34%) of participants reported receiving a phishing attack since the start of the pandemic. Fourteen per cent of respondents said they’ve faced a phishing attack related to Covid-19 — involving lures such as purported cures, Covid test results, or the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB).

StatsCan said 36% of individuals reporting at least one cyber incident suffered some sort of loss as a result — 87% reported lost time, while 13% said they lost data or money.

Less than one-third (29%) reported the incident, the survey found.

Those who did report the incident were most likely to inform a financial institution (12%), whereas only 5% reported to the police or the Canadian Centre for Cyber Security.

StatsCan also found that most Canadians haven’t changed their cybersecurity measures since the pandemic emerged, but that younger Canadians reported increased privacy concerns.

As a result, StatsCan found that 75% of those aged 15 to 34 increased, or maintained their use of multi-factor authentication, compared with just 39% of those aged 65 and older. As well, 47% of younger Canadians maintained or increased their purchases of added security software, versus just 28% of seniors.

Additionally, 21% of respondent said they refused apps access to their location, or refused the use of personal data for advertising, since the onset of the pandemic. Most, 77%, did this due to security concerns, the survey found.