Vice-President of Marketing Partnerships at the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB)
Mediaplanet sat down with Mandy D’Autremont, Vice-President of Marketing Partnerships at the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB), on cybersecurity and its importance to small- and medium-sized businesses.
How often are small businesses the target of a cyberattack?
Small businesses are a frequent target of cyberattacks. In the past year, almost half of small businesses received random attacks, and one in four received targeted attacks. In addition, 11% of businesses experienced a whaling attempt – which is an attack specifically targeting the business owner.
What impact can cyber incidents have on a business’ operations and reputation?
A cyber incident (which is when a cyberattack successfully breaks into a business) can really harm a business’ operations, finances, and reputation. The average cost of a cyber breach for a small business is $26,000. Some CFIB members told us they’ve lost as much as a million dollars. The impact can be devastating. In fact, some research from the U.S. indicates that 60% of small businesses close within six months of being breached.
Are some businesses too small to be a target of cyber criminals?
Not at all. Cyberattacks are a real threat to even the smallest of businesses. If a business is connected to the internet in any way, cybercriminals can reach them. Cybercriminals will take advantage of anyone who falls for the traps they send out.
What are a small business’ weakest points?
Nearly all cyber breaches happen because of human error – someone opens an attachment with a virus or doesn’t have a strong enough password. The good news is there is a solution on this front – cybersecurity training. In this digital age, every business should be prioritizing training for themselves and their employees.
Where can I find cybersecurity training?
The CFIB launched a Cybersecurity Academy, in partnership with Mastercard and their cybersecurity specialists. This training offers quick courses for small business owners and their employees to learn how to protect their business. The Academy is free to CFIB members. This is such a critical issue that we’ve also opened up access for non-members through introductory membership. Business owners can go to cfib.ca/cybersecurity to get started.
We are also running a contest until March 31, 2023, with $15,500 in prizes to be won. Business owners and their employees get contest entries for each course they complete.
What are the top tips that small businesses can use today to protect themselves from cybercrime?
First, make sure you have strong passwords on all your devices – at least eight characters.
Second, make it a habit to run updates on all your devices immediately. Cyber criminals will seek out systems that do not have up-to-date protections.
Third, back up your data in multiple secure places. This way, if your business is breached and your data wiped, you will be able to recover.
Finally, follow your gut. If something seems fishy, do not click on it, do not reply or forward it on. You can always verify the authenticity of an email or text by reaching out to the sender in another way – by phone or through a new email.