Nearly half of Canadians lack confidence in cybersecurity of CRA, Elections Canada: survey

(Soumil Kumar /

According to a new survey, nearly half of Canadians lack confidence in the cybersecurity of Elections Canada and federal government services such as the Canada Revenue Agency.

More than 100 ransomware attacks targeted notable Canadian sites in 2021, including hospitals and Rideau Hall, and in the wake of this, Canadians are feeling a lack of confidence in institutions’ ability to protect from cyber threats, according to a report released by Angus Reid Institute on Thursday.

The report detailed the results of a survey that found that more than half of Canadians said they were “not confident” that their municipal government had good cybersecurity, and half were not confident that their local health authority had good cybersecurity.

The survey, which was conducted online in early November, included a randomized sample of 1,611 Canadians who are part of the Angus Reid Forum, where Canadians can take part in surveys.

Around 48 per cent of respondents said they weren’t confident in the cybersecurity of their local utility providers, while 45 per cent said they lacked confidence in the cybersecurity of Elections Canada and services such as the CRA, income assistance and student loans.

Several high-profile ransomware attacks this year have opened Canadians’ eyes to the threat, including a cyberattack in the summer that targeted the Government of Canada and led to thousands of Canadians’ online CRA accounts being exposed.

This past October, a suspected cyberattack crippled Newfoundland and Labrador’s health network, cancelling thousands of appointments and forcing some regions to return to a paper system that hadn’t been used for decades.

Around 75 per cent of Canadians are aware of the threat of cyberattacks, according to the survey, with Canadians in Atlantic Canada reporting the highest awareness.

According to the survey, some Canadians also have personal experience — three in 10 said that they had been affected by a cyberattack in some way.

Men over the age of 55 were the most likely to have been hit with a cyberattack, with 75 per cent reporting that they had been personally impacted.

Just under a third of Canadians said that they lack confidence in the cybersecurity of their bank or financial institution, making it the institution that Canadians were most confident in of those mentioned on the survey.

Canadians were least confident in the security of social media sites, with 77 per cent reporting that didn’t think these platforms had up to date cybersecurity.

Some responses ranged by province. Albertans reported the lowest percentage of those who were confident in the security of Elections Canada, at 35 per cent, while more than half of the respondents from British Columbia reported being confident in Elections Canada’s security.

Ransomware attacks are a type of cyberattack where a hacker freezes a computer service until a ransom is paid, and according to the Communication Security Establishment’s Canadian Centre for Cyber Security, these type of attacks increased 151 per cent in the first six months of 2021 compared to 2020.

There were 235 attacks in total, with more than half targeting critical infrastructure, such as electrical grids or hospitals.

If Canadians are the target of a ransomware attack, two-thirds surveyed by Angus Reid said they would rather fight the hackers and not pay if a ransom was demanded, while one third said they would rather pay to end the service disruptions.

Around 47 per cent of Canadians surveyed supported legislation to ban paying ransoms to hackers in the case of these attacks.

This survey comes after federal ministers urged Canadians to bolster their cybersecurity earlier this week, stating in an open letter that Canadians should build a response plan.


The Angus Reid Institute conducted an online survey from Nov. 3-7, 2021, among a representative randomized sample of 1,611 Canadian adults who are members of Angus Reid Forum. For comparison purposes only, a probability sample of this size would carry a margin of error of plue or minus 2.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. Discrepancies in or between totals are due to rounding. The survey was self-commissioned and paid for by ARI.

Source: CTV News