Poll: Close to half of Canadians foresee being affected by cyber attack

Cyber security threats at J.P. Morgan, Target and Home Depot have garnered much of the public's attention in the past several months, as the breaches affected millions of people. The gravity of personal identity theft is very real, and today, it's something that many Canadians take seriously, according to the results of a new study.

Nearly 8 in 10 Canadians say that they're concerned they or a family member will be victimized by a data breach, based on recent polling data performed by MSI on behalf of McAfee Canada. Additionally, close to 50 percent of respondents predicts that they will be affected by an incident in which their data is compromised by 2025.

Brian Johnson, an Intel futurist, indicated that while cyber security invasions have long been an issue, it's really only within the past couple of years that people have come to realize just how serious an issue it is and how close to home it can hit.

"People have just started to understand that their personal data is not some ethereal thing," said Johnson. "They haven't quite figured out what's appropriate for others to know about that data. For instance, we don't blurt out our credit card information when we walk into a room. Why would we want our data to do that online?"

Brenda Moretto, consumer manager at McAfee Canada, a leading Internet security solutions firm, pointed out that as technology advances, it increases overall communication processes and connectivity. This has its positives, but there are also plenty of downsides.

"While they [i.e. Canadians] believe this will simplify some aspects of their lives, they're also concerned about how their security and privacy will be protected," said Moretto. "We are hoping this study will raise awareness of these concerns and ensure privacy is taken into consideration in future innovations."

Nearly 10,000 police-reported cyber crimes in 2012 nationwide
Cyber crime in Canada is becoming increasingly common. For instance, in 2012 – the latest year for which data is available – there were nearly 9,100 separate incidents in which a cyber attack took place, based on police reports compiled by Statistics Canada. That's the equivalent of approximately 33 incidents for every 100,000 people.

Of the 9,084 cyber crimes that occurred, close to 16 percent were a sexual violation, Statistics Canada revealed in its "Police-reported Cyber crime in Canada" analysis. Roughly 6 percent of cyber crimes involved luring an underage youth or child to a sexual miscreant's location and 9 percent was related to child pornography.

While these are some of the downsides of living in a more hyper connected world, there are many developments that Canadians foresee occurring that may contribute to an improved quality of life. For example, the McAfee survey found that by 2025, more than 60 percent of respondents said they'll likely live in a house that speaks or reads to them. Additionally, within the next decade or so, more than half said their home's security system will be connected to their mobile device.

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