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Scams are a very broad category of illegal activity that, in the online world, includes everything from malware to phishing to fake e-commerce sites. The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC) even catalogs over 50 categories of scams and fraud.

In reference to scams, there is a big difference between someone installing ransomware on your PC and an e-commerce store that ships you a footstool in place of the fancy chair you ordered (a common scam). However, at the end of the day the end user is victimized and can feel helpless, angry, afraid, or all three at once. Moreover, fraud is not a virus, ransomware, botnet, or other threat that cybersecurity tools are on the lookout for. But there are solutions, so keep reading!

According to Statistics Canada, crime rates continue to fall dramatically for things like breaking and entering, or robbery (down 16% and 18% respectively according to their 2020 report) so it is in an overall landscape of reduced property crime that the huge increase in online crime is so shocking. This is because, unlike physical crime, online scams can be initiated by thieves living anywhere on the planet.  From my own circle, almost everyone has a story that has impacted somebody in their extended family.

Speaking of impact, it is significant. As of August 31, 2021, there were more than 51,000 reports of fraud with almost $1.5 million in theft in Canada according to the tracker on the CAFC. The scams are getting bigger too as the amount lost is much higher than last year. Finally, since many frauds may simply go unreported, we suspect the actual number is much higher.
 

CIRA Canadian Shield incorporates Scam Adviser feed into its protected and family versions

CIRA has partnered with Scam Adviser – a global leader in anti-scam technology – to incorporate their feed into the block list for CIRA Canadian Shield. What this means is that if you try and visit a suspected scam, you will instead receive a block page.

CIRA Canadian Shield is a free layer of malware and phishing protection for Canadian households. It was released as a community “investment” project and leverages cybersecurity analysis and AI to detect and block more than 100,000 brand-new threats every single day. It is part of our not-for-profit goals of helping to create a more trusted internet in Canada. Anyone can set it up using the DNS settings on the router or home gateway to protect the whole home. Alternatively, it is easy to configure in the security settings of your browser to protect web surfing.
 

How does CIRA Canadian Shield identify a suspected fraud or scam?

The Scam Adviser feed is pretty clever. Over on their site, people can test URLs and report known scams. They also have lists of scams as identified by law authorities, but most importantly, sites are continually crawled using a proprietary algorithm to look for scam cues. This includes many of the things that any savvy online shopper should be doing for themselves when visiting an e-store for the first time. For instance, are the business servers located where they say they are? Is the business brand new but somehow has hundreds of positive reviews? Is the website replicated across many different domain names? And much more. Each of these contributes to the score that determines how much of a risk a sight may be.
 

What scam sites get blocked?

For users of either the Protected or Family versions of Canadian Shield, we are blocking those sites with the very highest risk score. Why? One of the great things about our malware and phishing protection is that it is designed to have a very low false-positive rate to ensure that your web experiences aren’t disappointing. If your family has a bad web experience then they may turn off the security – and CIRA Canadian Shield provides an excellent balance between threat protection and user needs.

This means that we still, and will always, recommend that before you buy anything from a brand new store that you do take the time to check out a few of the tips on how to spot a scam. Scam Adviser has compiled a nice list on how to recognize a scam.
 

To conclude, the addition of fraud and scam blocking is yet another reason to choose CIRA Canadian Shield to help protect your home network and mobile devices. Our not-for-profit mandate means that we have no interest in up-selling you or monetizing your data. Your privacy matters just as much as your online safety. When each individual is safe, the entire internet is safer.