Accelerated by the global COVID-19 pandemic, companies are hastily shifting the way they offer their products and/or services to create more digital e-commerce solutions for their customers. Yet in doing so, a lack of strong cyber security has quickly become an impending concern for Canadian businesses as cyber-attacks, often in the form of ransomware demands or phishing emails, continue to strike across the country.
The Automotive Parts Manufacturers’ Association (APMA) and KPMG in Canada discovered through the 2021 Automotive Cyber Preparedness Report that 30% of Canadian automotive businesses surveyed had experienced a security breach in the last 12 months.
“The cyber threats to Canadian systems are large and growing, putting Canadians at risk. Cybercrime in Canada causes more than $3 billion in economic losses each year.”
– Ralph Goodale, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness
It is undeniable that Canadian businesses require much greater support options including government funding solutions to keep up with the ever-increasing challenges that come with threats to cyber security. This blog seeks to explore the Government of Canada’s current plan to improve cyber security, as well as provide resources and information for protecting business cyber domains from potential threats.
Canada’s National Cyber Security Action Plan: Government Support Options for Canadian Businesses
The Canadian government’s five-year National Cyber Security Action Plan (2019-2024) focuses on securing Canadian cyber systems in private and public spheres by prioritizing cyber protection projects in Canadian science, innovation, talent, and entrepreneurship sectors to generate strong domestic relationships that will help drive progress in global cyber security.
“Strong cyber security expertise and innovations are key to protecting Canada’s data and intellectual property and to maintaining the competitiveness of Canada’s businesses. The commitment to safeguard Canadians’ digital privacy and security will help maintain Canada’s role as a world leader in cyber security, creating well-paying jobs and economic growth.”
– François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry
Through the National Cyber Security Action Plan, the recent Cyber Security Cooperation Program (CSCP) offered eligible businesses up to $300,000 per year in grant and/or loan funding to establish digital solutions for cyber security to decrease the risk of imminent cyber-attacks across the country.
While the intake deadline for that program closed earlier in February 2021, the Government of Canada has launched the new Cyber Security Innovation Network program with a similar focus, promising an investment of $80 million over four years to support projects focusing on cyber security research and development, commercialization, and skills and talent development.
The Cyber Security Innovation Network program will establish a national network composed of experts on cyber security that are allied with post-secondary institutions across Canada, in further partnership with private sector businesses, not-for-profits, provincial, territorial, and municipal governments, and other relevant Canadian institutions focused on improving cyber security measures.
Ways to Protect and Improve Cyber Security Strategy
According to Info Security Group, phishing emails have skyrocketed by over 600% since the start of the pandemic. One of the simplest ways for many Canadian businesses to prevent these types of cyber-attacks is by ensuring employees have cyber security from a remote work-from-home environment by implementing cyber security training, customizing security options, encouraging the use of two-factor authentication, and establishing other internal solutions to protect business data.
Three Best Practices to Enhance Your Business’ Cyber Security
- Invest in an antivirus software program and back up your data:
Having an antivirus program set up on your internal devices will protect you from most types of malware such as ransomware, fake websites, phishing scams, and network hacks. There are many reputable companies that can offer full online protection with their antivirus software. As a bonus, make sure that your business files are backed up to keep them safe if your business does happen to fall prey to a ransomware attack without a reputable antivirus program in place. This will also help if your device is ever lost, stolen, or damaged.
- Take time to create and store strong, secure passwords:
First up, don’t be lazy. Ilovetacos may be easy for you to remember sure, but it’s also an incredibly easy password to crack, especially if it’s public knowledge that you absolutely love tacos. Be unique in creating your passwords and encourage your employees to be as well. Don’t include any personal info such as your name, your date of birth, or hometown. If you’re ever targeted for a hack, the hacker will leverage everything they know about you in their guess attempts. If you’re worried about being able to remember your unique passwords, you can use a safe password software to store this information.
- Stay aware and educated about new and ongoing cyber security threats:
The more aware you are of cyber-attacks and how prevalent they are in your industry, location, or other specific demographic, the more likely you are to think twice and prepare an action plan to stop them from happening to your business. For example, you should always be cautious of clicking on links or downloading anything that comes from an address you don’t know or that you weren’t expecting. Take the time to read up on cyber security news so that you can always stay prepared.
Government Grants and Loans for COVID-19 Support
As the pandemic continues to force longer-than-intended shutdowns for thousands of Canadian businesses, the federal and provincial governments remain diligent in allocating funding towards the prevention and recovery of adverse impacts caused by COVID-19.
Find more COVID-19 business support options by visiting our coronavirus business support resources and explore government subsidies, PPE grants, webinars, and more.