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A pillar of Canada’s new National Cyber Security Strategy is the Canadian Centre for Cyber Security, which launched on Oct. 1, 2018, the opening day of Cyber Security Awareness Month. (Shutterstock/HQuality)

Canada | Technology

Cyber Security Awareness Month focuses on digital literacy, data protection and future opportunities

Major investment spurs the launch of a new cyber hub as the government ramps up the fight against digital threats

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Every year October is considered Cyber Security Awareness Month (CSAM) globally. And with the Canadian government announcing in February that it’s investing more than $500-million to fight cyber threats, the stakes were high for 2018’s agenda.

The annual awareness month began in the United States back in 2004, with other regions such as Canada and Europe initiating their own campaigns in recent years to engage and educate the public on cyber security issues. 

Here are some key highlights based on the five main themes for this year’s CSAM:

The launch of a digital security hub

A pillar of Canada’s new National Cyber Security Strategy is the Canadian Centre for Cyber Security, which launched on Oct. 1, the opening day of CSAM 2018.

The Cyber Centre will develop and share cyber defense systems and act as the operational leader and government spokesperson during cyber security events. It will also offer training and guidance tools, including a certification program, to help SMEs develop best practices against digital threats.

Exercising safety using new technologies

Whether you’re buying a new cell phone, using the latest apps to manage your finances or syncing it all to your laptop, buyers and users of new technology must be aware of the information flow between each tool and how to safely manage it.

CPA Canada’s 2018 Fraud Survey found that 68 per cent of respondents believe electronic payment methods—tapping debit and credit cards or paying via smartphone apps—facilitate fraudulent activities, while 40 per cent said they feel uncomfortable making online purchases.

“Use trusted websites, reputable payment processors and check your bank or credit card statements regularly for discrepancies,” suggests Doretta Thompson, director, corporate citizenship, CPA Canada. “You are your own best gatekeeper when it comes to protecting your personal information. Be extremely cautious about what information you share online. Fraudsters are always looking for personal data.”

With new scams popping up all the time, and targeted members of society such as seniors being especially at risk, digital literacy was a major talking point this month. The federal government encouraged individuals and businesses to follow its Get Cyber Safe information centre online to keep up-to-date on the latest news and trends. In addition, the National Research Council hosted several educational events across the country.

Understanding our data is valuable and vulnerable

With the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) coming into effect earlier this year, the bar has been raised for global data privacy and transparency. 

From personal information to business information, our increased use and reliance on technology creates opportunities for cyber criminals to find and exploit our data. 

Roughly 70 per cent of those polled in CPA Canada’s Fraud Survey said they’re concerned about identity theft, up from 66 per cent a year ago, and 76 per cent believe Canadian businesses are vulnerable to cyber attacks regarding their personal data.

Viewing cybersecurity as an opportunity

The best way forward in terms of managing cyber threats may actually be to embrace them by creating new job opportunities and training the next generation of professionals to fill crucial roles in cybersecurity. 

A recent joint study conducted by Deloitte Canada and the Toronto Financial Services Alliance found a growing gap between demand and availability of national cyber talent.

“According to our analysis, demand for cyber talent in Canada is increasing by seven per cent annually, with organizations needing to fill some 8,000 cybersecurity roles between 2016 and 2021,” states their report.

Aligning with this trend, the aforementioned Cyber Centre will bring together an estimated 750 skilled workers to form its national hub, which is expected to be running at full operational capacity by spring 2020. 

STAY UP-TO-DATE WITH CPA CANADA

For more on these issues and how they may impact your business or practice, check out our 2018 alert, Cyber Security: Establishing a Risk Management Program and Continuing to Reassess Disclosure Practices. Also, understand the key concepts behind cybersecurity with the Introduction to cybersecurity for CPAs online course.