Cyber Criminals Targeting Internet-Connected Devices In Canadian Homes – Report

The newly created Canadian Centre for Cyber Security has issued a threat assessment for the country and says that cyber criminals are increasingly targeting internet-connected devices in Canadian homes.

In its 2018 threat assessment, the cyber security agency says that cyber criminals are moving away from targeting traditional computers and focusing instead on devices such as televisions, home appliances, thermostats and cars that are connected to the Internet. And the agency says lax security features on those devices is making them attractive to criminals.

"Manufacturers have rushed to connect more types of devices to the internet, often prioritizing ease of use over security," the Canadian Centre for Cyber Security wrote in its annual report, which was made public late on Thursday. "We regularly observe cyber threat actors exploiting security flaws in devices resulting in either disruption to device functionality or using devices as platforms to launch other malicious cyber activities."

Cyber criminals used thousands of devices connected to the internet — from baby monitors to air quality monitors and surveillance cameras — to launch a "botnet attack" in October 2016, the centre said. Enterprising cybercriminals have even infected devices connected to the internet with malware to mine cryptocurrency — with the owner of the device often being oblivious to what is going on with the device in their own hand.

While cybercrime isn't new, the centre predicts that cyberattacks on Canadians are going to rise dramatically in coming years. The centre added that it sees cybercriminals becoming more organized and developing business-like processes.

At a news conference to unveil the centre's first report, Scott Jones, head of the centre, said his organization isn't trying to scare Canadians but is trying to help people and companies avoid becoming victims of cybercriminals and state-controlled hackers.

Corporate espionage remains a serious threat in Canada, particularly for businesses in strategic sectors of the economy or those that have attractive intellectual property or commercially sensitive information. Companies with large databases are frequently targeted by cyber crooks who try to extort businesses by revealing confidential client information, said Jones.