Identity theft is the fastest growing crime in Canada, with over two-thirds of Canadian adults having been subject to cyber-crime in the past year alone, Canadian Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney said in an open letter to Canadians on Thursday.
Canadians are big Internet users, spending more than 41 hours per month online via their desktop computers - placing Canada first among all countries in terms of monthly pages and visits per visitor, according to a study this year by U.S.-based Web-tracking company comScore, Inc.
Therefore, it is not entirely surprising that Canada has dedicated the month of October to cyber-security awareness.
As Canada has become one of the planet's biggest consumers of the Internet, "there is a darker side to that success," Blaney warned, with as many as seven million Canadians subject to cyber-crime.
According to the 2013 Norton Report, an annual research study commissioned by global security software company Symantec Corp., 68 percent of Canadian adults surveyed reported that they had experienced cyber-crime in their lifetime.
By comparison, 61 percent of all 13,022 adult online users across 24 countries had the same experience.
Blaney said that small and medium-sized businesses, which account for about 98 percent of Canadian business and employ almost five million Canadians, and their customers are a "growing target" for cyber-criminals.
Three years ago, the Canadian government unveiled a cyber security strategy built on three pillars: securing government systems, partnering to secure vital cyber-systems outside the federal government, and helping Canadians to be secure online.
Led by Public Safety Canada, the strategy involves several federal government departments and agencies. It also features an online campaign to raise public awareness.