Senior Director of Marketing Partnerships at CFIB
In our digital world, cybersecurity has become a cornerstone of success for businesses of all sizes. While cyberattacks on some well-known big businesses have grabbed headlines recently, small businesses are increasingly becoming targets for cyber criminals and bad actors. The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) recognizes the pressing need for cybersecurity education and offers valuable resources to empower small businesses to fortify their digital defenses.
Cybersecurity training for small businesses
A study by IBM found that human error is the main cause of 95 per cent of cybersecurity breaches. CFIB’s Cybersecurity Academy, a collaboration with Mastercard, offers online courses to equip business owners and their employees with the knowledge and skills to navigate the digital landscape safely. Course topics cover prevention, including cyber basics such as password security and how to recognize phishing emails, as well as what action to take during and after a cyberattack.
Best practices in the workplace
Business owners can bolster their cybersecurity by implementing policies in the workplace and helping educate their employees. CFIB provides downloadable templates in the Academy to support best practices, such as a social media policy template, technology usage policy template, and posters with tips to avoid getting caught by phishing emails and reminders for employees to secure their workspaces. While CFIB’s cybersecurity education focuses on prevention first, business owners can also get ready to handle a cyberattack, with templates including a cybersecurity emergency contact list, an incident preparation list, and an incident response plan.
The average cost of a cyberattack to a small business is $26,000. At a time when business owners are still dealing with significant debt from the pandemic, as well as the staggeringly rising costs of doing business, they simply can’t afford the risk of incurring this unanticipated cost.
The high cost of cyberattacks
The average cost of a cyberattack to a small business is $26,000. At a time when business owners are still dealing with significant debt from the pandemic, as well as the staggeringly rising costs of doing business, they simply can’t afford the risk of incurring this unanticipated cost. In fact, research shows 60 per cent of small businesses close within six months of a cyberattack. Cyber insurance is not a replacement for effective and well-rounded cyber risk management, but it can help manage losses resulting from a successful cyberattack. To support business owners with their insurance preparedness, CFIB partnered with the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) to create a Cybersecurity Insurance Preparation List (CIPL). IBC is also sponsoring calls to CFIB’s helpline about cybersecurity from members who need one-on-one advice from Business Advisors.
Getting started: Essential cybersecurity tips
It can be hard to know where to start when it comes to cybersecurity, so CFIB recommends beginning with the basics:
- Don’t Underestimate Strong Passwords. According to the Cyber Readiness Institute, 63 per cent of data breaches result from weak or stolen passwords. Use passwords that are long, strong, and hard to guess, but relatively easy for you to remember without writing them down.
- Implement Two-Factor Authentication (2FA): This extra layer of security significantly reduces the dangers of unauthorized access. It also mitigates risks from password re-use across multiple sites.
- Regularly Update Software: Keeping your software up to date is a fundamental step in defending against cyber threats. Software updates often contain patches to fix vulnerabilities that cybercriminals could exploit.
- Exercise Caution with Emails: Avoid clicking on links and attachments in unexpected emails. Always verify the sender’s authenticity through a trusted phone number or contact method before taking any action.
If you’re looking for practical advice to get started, check out CFIB’s webinars in partnership with Mastercard on the topics of cybercrime and cybersecurity. The webinars provide tips for businesses of all types and sizes. One viewer said, “As a mom-and-pop shop, we always think that this cannot happen to us. Thanks for some tips even for us little guys.” The webinars are available in English and French at CFIB.ca/Cybersecurity.
Cybersecurity is an indispensable part of modern business operations. Small businesses can be even more vulnerable to cyber threats, so it is crucial they are well-informed and prepared. By implementing best practices and staying vigilant, small business owners can navigate the digital landscape securely and help protect their employees, their customers, and themselves.
Find out more at CFIB.ca/cybersecurity.