While 77% of Canadians Claim to be Knowledgeable about Cyber Threats, When Put to the Test Knowledge Appears Lacking

Millennials Most Confident in Knowledge, but Exhibit Most Risky Online Behaviour

The author(s)

  • Sean Simpson Vice President, Canada, Public Affairs
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Toronto, ON, October 10, 2018 — While eight in ten (77%) Canadians say they’re knowledgeable (15% very/62% somewhat) about various threats to the safety and security of their personal information, a short quiz putting Canadians to the test shows that knowledge of some key terminology appears to be lacking, according to a new Ipsos poll conducted on behalf of RBC.

Moreover, while Millennials (84%) claim to be more knowledgeable than Gen Xers (76%) and Boomers (72%), the poll finds that they exhibit more-risky behaviour than older generations.

Canadians were given six terms along with six definitions, and were asked to match the term to the definition. Only two out of the six definitions tested were identified correctly by a majority of Canadians:

  • Malicious software: any software intentionally designed to cause damage to a computer, internet server, or computer network (69% correct).
  • Ransomware: a program which locks or restricts access to your computer or your files and displays a message that demands payment in order for the restriction to be removed (68% correct).
  • Vishing: The fraudulent practice of making phone calls, Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) calls, or leaving voice messages purporting to be from reputable companies or government agencies to trick you into revealing personal information, such as bank details and credit card numbers (45% correct).
  • SMishing: a type of attack where mobile phone users receive text messages containing a link or attachment, which if opened downloads malicious software to their mobile device (45% correct).
  • Phishing: Fake emails, text or other messages created by criminals to look like they're from colleagues, officials or authentic companies but which actually steal your personal and financial information (39% correct).
  • Pharming: The fraudulent practice of directing you to a bogus website that mimics the appearance of a legitimate one, in order to obtain personal information such as passwords, account numbers, or personal information (32% correct).

Overall, 16% of Canadians got 5 or 6 responses correct, 41% got 3-4 correct, and a whopping 43% got only 2 or fewer responses correct. Interestingly, even among those who claimed to be knowledgeable about cyber threats, 42% only got 2 or fewer responses correct showing a disconnect between people’s perceived level of knowledge and actual knowledge. While younger Canadians did perform slightly better than older respondents, still a sizeable 43% of Millennials only got 2 or fewer response correct, compared to 47% of Boomers.

In this case, ignorance of various types of cybercrimes may not be bliss and instead might be stoking fear. More Canadians are worried about being a victim of various cybercrimes in the next 12 months – including a device being infected by a virus or malware (61% worried), identity theft (50%), or falling victim to a scam (41%) – than they are about more traditional forms of crime such as a car theft (27%) or robbery (31%).

Interestingly, while most Canadians say that it is important for them to safeguard things like their bank account number (99%), credit card number (98%), address (90%), phone number (89%), email address (83%) and name (82%), Millennials were by far the least likely to say it’s important to safeguard many of these things, including their name (72%) or email address (77%). Millennials were also more likely than older generations to say they’ve engaged in some risky behaviour while connected to a public WI-FI network, such as accessing their bank accounts (42% of Millennials vs. 23% of Gen X vs. 15% of Boomers), making online purchases with their credit or debit cards (33% vs. 18% vs. 12%), or filling out personal information about themselves including their address, bank information, SIN or other sensitive information (37% vs. 15% vs. 4%).

While 47% of Canadians confess that they wouldn’t know what to do if they were victimized by a cybercrime, this figure rises to 55% among Millennials, significantly higher than among Gen Xers (48%) and Boomers (40%).

About the Study

These are some of the findings of an Ipsos poll conducted between August 10 to 13, 2018, on behalf of RBC. For this survey, a sample of 2,002 Canadians aged 18+ was interviewed online via the Ipsos I-Say panel and non-panel sources. Quota sampling and weighting were employed to balance demographics to ensure that the sample's composition reflects that of the adult population according to Census data and to provide results intended to approximate the sample universe. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll is accurate to within ±2.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, had all Canadian adults been polled. The credibility interval will be wider among subsets of the population. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error, and measurement error.

For more information on this news release, please contact:
Sean Simpson
Vice President, Canada
+1 416 324-2002

About Ipsos

Ipsos is an independent market research company controlled and managed by research professionals. Founded in France in 1975, Ipsos has grown into a worldwide research group with a strong presence in all key markets. Ipsos ranks fourth in the global research industry.
With offices in 89 countries, Ipsos delivers insightful expertise across five research specializations: brand, advertising and media; customer loyalty; marketing; public affairs research; and survey management.
Ipsos researchers assess market potential and interpret market trends. They develop and build brands. They help clients build long-term relationships with their customers. They test advertising and study audience responses to various media and they measure public opinion around the globe.
Ipsos has been listed on the Paris Stock Exchange since 1999 and generated global revenues of €1,780.5 million in 2017.

The author(s)

  • Sean Simpson Vice President, Canada, Public Affairs