The shift to an online world through e-commerce, social media, and electronic communications has made many things easier — including the ways in which criminals can target you, your money, your family, and your business.

Cybercrime is any criminal activity that is done via computer, the internet, or other electronic means. This can include fraud, theft, extortion, identity theft, harassment, and other types of crime.

It has never been more important to take proactive steps to protect yourself. Criminals are constantly thinking of new ways to commit crime in the cyber world. Take some time to learn and develop good habits to prevent becoming a victim of cybercrime, and report all cybercrimes to police.

Find more information on fraud prevention, cyber bullying, online dating safety, and preventing identity theft.

Top 10 ways to protect yourself from cybercrime

  1. Update the operating system on your home computer and other devices to fix security issues.
  2. Back-up your computer regularly so you can restore or recover your valuable documents and family photos, if needed.
  3. Use strong and different passwords or passphrases for your online accounts. A passphrase, such as four words strung together, increases security greatly.
  4. Beware of unsolicited emails, texts, or phone calls from someone saying they are with your bank, credit card company, or the government (i.e. Canada Revenue Agency). Do not give or confirm personal information.
  5. Ensure the router for your home network is secure and password protected.
  6. When shopping online, only purchase on trusted sites, and consider using a separate, low-limit credit card.
  7. Be careful what you share on social media. Ensure you have the highest privacy settings and don’t give out personal information, like your birthdate. Even photos you post can have geo-tagging, which reveals your geographic location.
  8. Educate your children and other family members about cyber safety. Monitor their online activity and set parental controls if necessary.
  9. Report all incidents of cybercrime to your local police.
  10. Arm yourself with up-to-date, trusted information on staying safe online from the trusted resources listed at right.

Social network and internet safety

How much information is too much information in this day and age of social networking? Are you unintentionally putting yourself at risk by revealing where you are and what you are doing with your tweets and posts, or by having GPS or Geotags?

The speed and visibility of social media makes for a fun experience and great entertainment, but it also creates an opportunity to embarrass yourself or others, jeopardize your employment, or worse still, compromise your safety or your identity.

It used to be enough for us to think about our physical security, such as what type of door locks we should use, or whether or not to have an alarm system installed, but now we also need to think about our online safety and whether our online information is equally safe. Protecting yourself means thinking about what you post and managing your profiles on all the various social networks you use.

Social Networking Safety Tips for Home Use

  • Use the privacy settings for each social media site and review or update them on a regular basis. Decide how visible you want your contact and profile information, photos, videos and postings to be, and then take the time to learn how to set the right level of control. Restrict delivery of information and photos to only those in your circle of friends.
  • Don’t share information that can help people steal your identity or locate you, such as your date of birth, address or other personal information
  • Be cautious when sharing your work, school, and family connections, as these can help an identity thief to steal your “profile.”
  • Check into your ability to opt-out with advertisers, apps, and other third parties, as each “add-on” for social networking will have access to your information.
  • Be wary of quizzes and contests that ask you to answer questions – you may reveal more information than you intend.

Protecting your privacy on electronics

We strongly suggest that people and businesses always ensure all personal data is removed from their unused electronics before they are given away or recycled. Instructions on how to erase this data can usually be found on the company website or user manual. If you are still unsure, consult an expert.

Certain electronics such as desktop computers, laptops, tablets, and cellphones contain a wealth of information about you. There is also a growing number of products today that store personal information, like your name, email address, phone numbers, home address or GPS coordinates. These include:

  • your vehicles’ navigation system
  • SIM cards
  • smart watches
  • exercise bracelets
  • Smart TVs
  • video game consoles

Erasing your personal information from these devices lessens the chance your identity will be stolen.

  • Consider finding a new home for the device before recycling it at your local recycling depot.
  • Ensure the account service for the device is deactivated.
  • Reformat or delete all personal information from the device, as well as the SIM card.

Trusted resources

As technology changes, so does crime. It’s important to keep up-to-date with new and emerging trends, and best practices.

Youth and child exploitation

The Canadian Centre for Child Protection has youth crisis support resources and prevention information regarding cyberbullying and the distribution of intimate images.

In addition to being the national tip line to report online sexual exploitation of children, Cybertip has information and resources to help keep children safe online.


This Government of Canada website helps individuals and businesses protect themselves from spam.

Find information on cyber security from the Canadian Centre for Cyber Security.

For businesses hit with ransomware, Europol can assist individuals or businesses recover.

Founded by law enforcement and researchers, Global Alliance provides free security programs for individuals and small businesses.

Individuals and small businesses has information and advice to protect individuals, families, and small businesses.