• Ric Armstrong

OCTOBER IS SMALL BUSINESS & CYBERSECURITY AWARENESS MONTH


Canada has always been a country full of ingenuity and opportunity, from the early industrial days to our current digital era. Small and Medium Businesses (SMBs) are the backbone of our economy and have been at the forefront to drive Canada’s diverse economic spectrum.

October is Cybersecurity Awareness Month in Canada, a month that provides an urgent reminder to every entrepreneur, small business, and midmarket organization to step up their security and privacy.

In this post, I share some facts about the Canadian threat landscape in 2020 and offer tips and other helpful resources that organizations can leverage.

Cybersecurity Month in Canada is more important than ever this year, as COVID-19 continues to spread rapidly around the world, it has changed our work dynamics and ways we can support our communities while managing business though this crisis. This pandemic also inspired new incidents of cybercrime. Through the Canadian Centre for Cyber Security, the Government of Canada issued multiple alerts of new, sophisticated attacks in 2020, warning businesses and organizations about:

  • Themed phishing attacks and scams offering bogus offers of help/support

  • Network attacks exploiting unpatched devices and inadequate authentication

  • Targeted attacks on healthcare organizations doing research and development

In fact, cybercrime already represented a significant risk to Canadians before 2020. StatsCan reports that cybersecurity incidents impacted 21 percent of Canadian businesses in 2017 alone. That’s one out of every five businesses. A more recent report from the Cybersecure Policy Exchange (CPX) found that 57 percent of all Canadians reported being the victim of a cybercrime.

These aren’t just statistics. This data represents real individuals working for businesses and organizations facing disruption, losses, and even closure.

Cybersecurity is for everyone 

Cybersecurity is not just an IT issue. It’s for everyone at an organization, big or small. Whether you’re a sole proprietor running a business out of your home or the CEO of a vast global enterprise with thousands of employees across continents, every employee at every organization has an individual responsibility for cybersecurity.

Imagine each employee as a link in your cybersecurity chain. The goal is to work together to get everyone to think and act more mindfully.

In my role as a Microsoft leader, I’ve heard too many stories of organizations that come to us after a breach for assistance with security and modernization. I’ve learned that, on any given day, a single personal

technology decision can inadvertently undermine an entire organization’s security.

Simple mistakes, like attaching the wrong file to an email or clicking a link without thinking, can lead to breaches. Losing a device, like a phone or a laptop, can cause chaos. Even something as simple as putting off updates to software and hardware devices can open the door to a full-blown cybersecurity incident.

Customer retention is the upside of strong cybersecurity measures. KPMG research found 84 percent of Canadians will consider taking their business elsewhere if a company fails to keep their data safe.

Solutions anyone can use 

Small businesses with relatively simple IT don’t need technical sophistication to improve their cybersecurity. In fact, a combination of “off the shelf” technologies and changed behaviors can make a significant security impact. From encrypting your data and replacing passwords with biometrics, to requiring multifactor authentication to access your networks, you can do a lot to step up your security quickly.

I will conclude this post with three resources you can share with your employees and colleagues that can help cultivate a more mindful security culture. If you need more cybersecurity assistance, Microsoft is here to help.

On behalf of everyone at Microsoft Canada, I wish you a safe and productive Small Business and Cybersecurity Awareness Month.

  1. Response resources

If your company continues to focus on ongoing response efforts, you can explore the information and resources available on these Microsoft websites.

Small and Medium Business Resource Center -> Offers practical guidance for keeping your business up and running securely and getting the most out of your Microsoft technology investments. Visit https://aka.ms/smbresources

Small business remote work website -> This Canadian response website offers diverse response resources, including links to third-party government resources. Visit https://aka.ms/smbremoteworkCA

  1. Cybersecurity ebook

Download Six common cybersecurity mistakes you can fix now. This free ebook identifies the six most common mistakes that leave small businesses open to an attack and tips on how to fix them right away. Read this ebook to learn how to:

  • Manage users and accounts to reduce the complexity of securing devices

  • Prepare an incident response plan and continuously monitor activity

  • Safeguard your data and documents based on their sensitivity/importance

  1. Cybersecurity webinar on demand

Watch Securing your business, the first webinar-on demand in the Digital Advantage series. This hour-long session focuses understanding and mitigating digital risk. Watch this webinar-on demand to learn how to:

  • Discover common misconceptions about digital risk

  • Discuss real success stories

  • Receive specific mitigations you can put in place to protect your company

SOURCE: https://news.microsoft.com/en-ca/2020/10/15/get-strategic-about-your-security-during-small-business-and-cybersecurity-awareness-month-this-october/