Canadian individuals and businesses are learning that Canada is not keeping up with other nations in the battle against cyber crime. Recognition of specific weaknesses in Canada’s approach to fighting cyber crime should alert the nation’s businesses to the need for implementing cyber security measures to protect valuable data and confidential customer information.
Why Cyber Security Is Critical for Protecting Businesses
The Global Risks 2016 report published by the World Economic Forum lists cyber attacks as the leading concern for doing business in North America. The report explains that efforts to detect and disrupt cyber attacks are challenging because the perpetrators constantly change their methods of executing these attacks. The two key cyber security threats to businesses are system sabotage and data security breaches. Sabotage can involve denial of service attacks, causing a business’ web server to choke on bogus messages. Data security breaches can involve the theft of personal information and other confidential client information, such as trade secrets. If a business does not take adequate precautions to protect client information, customers might not return, and important clients could take their business to a competing company. Data security breaches can impair the cash flow of a business, damage its reputation, expose the company to lawsuits, and attract the scrutiny of regulatory agencies.
Protecting Customers’ Private Data
Cyber security is important for protecting your customers’ private data because of the variety of constantly changing schemes targeting businesses. In addition to hackers from the outside, other criminals attempting to obtain your customers’ private data can include insiders or disloyal employees attempting to sell such data for personal gain. A number of fraudulent email scams involve deceptive communications that appear to have been sent by another official within the targeted company. These emails often request client names and account numbers. Among the important legal initiatives affecting businesses in the battle against cyber crime is the Digital Privacy Act. This requires businesses to report data breaches to the Privacy Commissioner and to the affected individuals or businesses as quickly as possible.
Hacking the Computers of Business Owners
Although many business owners believe their businesses are too small to attract the interest of cyber criminals, the use of malware makes it easy to launch attacks on enormous numbers of computers. Some schemes involve the use of websites that direct a computer’s web browser to install harmful malware. Spam emails often contain viruses that install keyloggers to track everything a user enters on the keyboard. Ransomware is virus software, which makes data on the victim’s computer unavailable until that person pays a ransom. Some ransomware scams obtain payments by demanding the victim purchase a Green Dot MoneyPak card for a specific amount. The perpetrators direct the victim to enter the card number in a designated space on a website or email. Using a cloud-based platform, such as QuickBooks Online accounting software helps business owners avoid threats resulting from the use of malware. Daily virus scans and data backups keep your data more safe. The Government of Canada provides an information page on protecting your business with links to several websites offering resources for operating a cyber safe business.