Common cyber threats: Four places where they can impact you

October 9, 2019

It’s easy to throw your hands up in frustration at cyber threats. There are so many to keep track of, and they all seem to offer a level of sophistication that is difficult for the average internet user to understand. But complexity is no excuse for inaction. Stay informed with our guide to common cyber threats and the top places where they can impact you.

Email cyber threats

Email is an essential part of our online life. Unfortunately, it’s also one of the easiest ways for cyber criminals to target ordinary citizens. A weak email account password can leave your personal information vulnerable, potentially compromising other accounts that use that same email address as a log-in. For example: If a cyber criminal gets access to your email, they could easily change your password for your social media accounts – particularly if you don’t have two-factor authentication turned on. Email is also a prime vehicle for phishing scams, which can trick you into opening attachments, clicking on suspicious links, or giving up personal information. If something seems suspicious, go with your instincts and delete anything that looks out of the ordinary.

Banking and financial cyber threats

Banking online has simplified our lives in so many ways. We can check our account balance, pay bills and control our investments. But what’s convenient, isn’t always what’s secure.

Banking websites have layers of security systems in place to protect your information. Which is good, but it forces cyber criminals to use other means to get to your personal financial information. For example: Email phishing. Cyber criminals create fake emails that look like ‘real' emails from your bank or financial institution asking you to reply with personal information.

Malware is also a malicious tool that can be used, for instance, to capture your key strokes to steal your credit card information.

How can you protect yourself?

By practicing good cyber hygiene, even when it’s not the most convenient. Pro tip: don’t use public wifi to conduct online banking!

Cyber threats and social media

Canadians love social media, eh? The chance to connect with friends, follow celebrities and check up on the latest cat videos is too good to pass up. The downside to being active on social media platforms such as Instagram, Facebook and Twitter is that it leaves us vulnerable to cyber attacks. The threats are numerous: Cyber criminals could hack into our accounts and impersonate us. Or they could use the personal information we share on social media to piece together our email address and password.

What’s the best defence against cyber threats on social networking?

A strong password, a tactical approach to privacy settings and always thinking carefully about what you choose to post online.

Cyber threats to your mobile phone

It’s difficult to find a Canadian who isn’t glued to their phone(s) these days. Unfortunately, that means we need to stay vigilant about protecting our smartphones, tablets and other devices from cyber criminals. Viruses or worms can be spread through anything you download from the internet via your phone, by text attachments (MMS, which means multimedia messaging service) and by Bluetooth transfers.

Phishing by phone is another way cyber criminals can scam you. They'll send a text or email with a phone number for you to call to verify account information. They may also call you directly and ask you to enter your account number before continuing.

If you think your mobile device has been infected with malicious software, call your manufacturer or service provider.


Cyber threats are increasing in frequency and reach. But by integrating new cyber security habits into our lives, we can take measures into our own hands.

Stay informed! Follow Get Cyber Safe to learn more about how you can keep yourself – and your family – safe.

Follow Get Cyber Safe on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.


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