Cyber Attacks in Canada Are on the Rise. Here's How to Protect Yourself and Your Business

Posted by Max Ali

In today’s business world, companies of all sizes are constantly having to protect and monitor all forms of technology such as computers, laptops, mobile phones, tablets making sure that company information is secured at work, home and on the go.

In a climate of persistent threats, protecting your cyber space is no longer a requirement but a necessity.  In 2010, Canada ranked 6th as the world’s most common target for cyber related crimes and cyber security threats.  Canada has also experienced a 53% increase in hacking related crimes in the past year alone.

Cyber security can be defined as follows: Securing vital and confidential information such as banking information, client data, and passwords from various forms of online attacks such as hacking, virus and spyware. 

A recent local news story advised that Vancouver police authorities were looking for information on individuals that were embedding technology into Point of Sale Terminals that records credit card information and then transfers the data to purchase products/services online.

When the owner of the credit card received their bill, they noticed the merchant where they purchased their product had put through thousands of dollars. After contacting their credit card company, the business owner is contacted about these purchases and has no idea what has happened and thus has to spend time looking into the matter that can take days while potentially getting a bad rap from customers and having services suspended by the credit card company. 

Ultimately this ends up costing thousands of dollars to the business owners in lost time and potential future revenues. According to a recent study by the Poneman Institute, the average number of days to address a cybercrime is 18 days at a cost of $415 dollars. One way of possibly recovering these costs is via their insurance policy.  There is now an abundant of business insurance policies that offer coverage for cyber security related claims. However, one must carefully seek out this coverage. 

An example of a traditional Commercial General Liability policy clearly indicates what is NOT covered.

  • any loss of computer hardware, software or vital data including servicing, programming or re‐programming, data entry or data processing, consulting, advisory or related services are specifically excluded.
  • Any services meant to address any Electronic data issues.

Coverage can now be obtained that removes this exclusion and can provide business owners with the security of knowing that proper coverage is in place for their exposures on a countrywide or worldwide basis. 

In addition, a few easy steps can also assist in protecting and saving vital information:

EMAIL

When in doubt – DELETE. If you are unaware of the source, stay clear including unusual hyperlinks and/or urgent messages

PASSWORDS

Passwords should be changed on average every 3 months depending on the size of the company and type of industry. For those that constantly travel with laptops/tablets, it may not be a good idea to keep passwords on file or in memory for various social media and banking sites.

SHUT DOWN THE NET

Shutting down the internet during lunch and after work greatly reduces the possibility of an outside source accessing your computer.

BACK UP DATA

It is an absolute MUST to back up data. There are many ways to back up sensitive data including USB sticks,  external hard drives,  cloud computing to name a few.  Information that has not been backed up could end up costing thousands of dollars to retrieve it.

UPDATE SECURITY SOFTWARE

These two methods can restrict harmful data from entering your computer. Most business owners firmly believe that there firewall and antivirus software is enough. Yet all it takes is one employee to click on an unknown email. 

EMERGENCIES

Small business owners should have a plan in place in case of a computer related emergency or threat.  You or your employee(s) should know what to do in case of a breach. It is a good idea to have contact #’s handy of the following:

  • Internet Service Provider
  • Company/person handling your computer services
  • Banking institutions on line support

Educating ourselves and following a few simple rules on how to use the internet in a secure and safe manner at work, home and public spaces will go a long way in protecting our technology, networks and sensitive information.

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Max Ali

Max Ali

Max has worked in the insurance industry since 1998 as a Senior Underwriter, Business Development Manager and Marketing Rep managing & writing a wide variety of Commercial Insurance programs. He is also been an instructor with the Insurance Institute of Canada teaching a variety of commercial focused courses. more




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