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Protect yourself from cyber risk

We’re more attached than ever to our devices in an online world. While technological advances have made our lives easier, they also present new threats. Here are the top security risks to be aware of and tips on how to protect yourself.

Spam email

More than a passing annoyance, spam is often used to get your personal information (known as “phishing”) or pass malicious software onto your system.

  • Recognize the signs: spelling mistakes, strange formatting, long links with meaningless numbers, threatening language or other suspicious requests.
  • Only open or respond to email, text or instant messages from people or companies you know, and don’t click on questionable links.

Keep in mind, places like your bank wouldn’t ask you to email your account information or threaten to close your account for not responding. And the Canada Revenue Agency does not send refunds direct to you by email.

Online shopping

If you’re shopping online, be thorough: if a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is.

  • Shop online only with companies you trust.
  • Use a low-limit credit card for shopping online, or use prepaid cards.
  • Don’t let the site store your credit card number for future purchases.

Children’s online activities

Keeping kids safe online goes beyond limiting their access to certain sites. It’s also important to teach them safe Internet behaviours, such as:

  • Limit what information you post online and don’t share personal information in unencrypted files on your computer.
  • Accept friend requests only from people you know. Do not accept a second friend request from people who are already online friends without contacting them first.
  • Check the privacy settings on your social network sites. Limit access to posts, photos and other information to your family and friends.

In addition, it’s important to shield your child’s social insurance numbers from identity thieves looking for a clean history to use before anyone notices years later. You should also check your child’s credit rating when they reach their mid-teens. Consider any credit card offers in the mail addressed to your child as a sign that their data has been compromised.


It’s tempting to use the same, easy password for all of your systems, but doing so makes it easier to access your data. Answers to password recovery questions can also be easy to guess from your online activity and social media posts.

  • Choose strong passwords that don’t rely on any information someone could easily find online, such as your pet’s name, your birthday or address, etc.
  • Change your passwords frequently and don’t share your passwords.
  • Use a password manager tool to keep track of passwords.

The Internet of Things

Objects connected to the Internet, such as smart home monitoring systems, wearable devices and modern cars, present a unique security challenge. Many industries use these devices, but without strong security, they’re exposed to potential risks.

  • Know what devices are connected to the Internet and what information is stored on each: not just cell phones and computers, but also gaming systems, media players, smart home devices and anything with a camera or microphone.
  • Secure your Internet connection with strong Wi-Fi and router passwords.
  • If you can, set up a separate network for smart devices and install a firewall.
  • Update your devices regularly.


Computer viruses and other malicious software have been around for some time. With ransomware, hackers restrict access to your data, and then demand payment from you to release it. The latest targets are cloud-based systems like OneDrive, Dropbox and Google Drive.

  • Make a habit of backing up your data in a few secure places, like portable hard drives.
  • Keep your system software up to date, especially antivirus programs. Make sure it’s set up to scan compressed or archived files.
  • Turn off unused wireless connections like Bluetooth or infrared ports.
  • If you think your computer is under attack, shut off your main Internet connection and consult an information technology professional.

Concerned about identity thieves? You may already be covered.

If you have a Home policy with us, you’re automatically covered for identity fraud up to $10,000. Find out more about how your Identity Fraud coverage works.