Organizations around the world tend to take the security of their systems seriously only when they get hit by an attack. One of the security hazards is data breach that is growing constantly. Although the companies are well aware of the extent of the problem yet they show unprepared behavior and later face difficulties.
Data breaches can take different forms such as data loss, application vulnerabilities resulting in system exposition, hacking of systems, human or management error etc. Previously hacking was a leisure time activity for ordinary hackers but who knew that this skill will turn out to be an immense threat to big and small firms which will cause them to bend down on their knees.
Even giant organizations including Yahoo and LinkedIn could not keep their systems safe from the malevolent activities of cyber criminals. A lot of capital can be made by breaching accounts and stealing data of companies and such earning of wealth tend to increase the cyber criminal activities.
Smaller Firms in Canada More At Risk
While large organizations are already at risk of breaches, how can smaller firms be safe? Smaller businesses are more vulnerable and can be hacked easily.
Businesses in Canada are usually based on small firms which mean that they are more vulnerable to data breaches and attacks. These tiny businesses employ 2 to 3 persons and are operating from their home which implies that they lack the proper infrastructure for protecting their data against hackers.
Such small companies are usually e-commerce entities whose work is to sell and export goods from Canada to other parts of the world.
The Canadian firms are at risk of data breach and the reason behind it is quite obvious. Some of the most delicate data of the country that is millions of dollars in investment and saving are accessible to the Bay Street banks and wealth management firms. This accessibility of the banks makes them a perfect target for cyber criminals.
It is obvious that the big firms in Canada are well prepared for any kind of cyber attack. Large organizations co-operate together and with the help of telecom firms, they give a hard time to the hackers attempting their system access. However, the smaller firms in Canada are still at a high risk and for whom the challenges are mounting all the time.
The most common form of hacking used by the hackers today for breaching data is ransomware attack. Canada is ranked among the top 10 countries targeted by ransomware attacks, a report from Symantec showed. Ransomware attacks are a famous tactic used by the cyber criminals to install malicious software on the computers and demanding money in return to recover the system.
Ottawa Hospital faced a ransomware attack on four of their computers when an employee clicked on the malicious link. Auspiciously, the information of patient was safe as the hospital wiped drives and no money was paid.
According to an Osterman Research study found that 44 out of 125 Canadian companies had a ransomware attack during last year. Such frequent attacks on Canadian firms clearly explain the need for Canadian firms to start taking security vulnerabilities seriously.
Last year, the head of the Investment Industry Association of Canada said that many Bay Street firms were insufficiently prepared for any attacks. A Canadian bank was found to be among the top 20 Trojan attacks target. Likewise, 15 Canadian banks were found to be a target of such malware which was aimed at stealing login data of the customers during online transactions. Hackers were also able to impersonate fake websites of international banks as real and tricked the customers into revealing their details.
Data breaches of Canadian financial institutions have been reported quite frequently from the last year. Hackers used common phishing techniques through which they trick the users to reveal their log-in details.
Distributed denial of service (DDOS) attacks is also a method used by the cyber goons to access the data and exploit vulnerabilities into systems.
Providing detailed information of the employees on the websites of the company makes it effortless for the hackers to use any social engineering technique for exploitation. The hackers often exploit emails of the employees who frequently communicate with each other to open a malicious link send to them as an attachment in their email.
Watchdogs in U.S. are fining the companies for any vulnerability in the security system that put the data of the customers at risk. The Canadian regulators are also working to make their security systems better yet leaving caution to the financial institutions.
Where is Canada ranked?
The reason Canadian firms should start taking breaches seriously is that only 9% out of 103 organizations were found to be highly secure and resistible against the potential data breaches and more than 60% were found to be at a risk of an attack. The outcome of such attacks is to the financial condition of the organizations that face great losses.
About 70% of the Canadian organizations have fallen for the cyber attacks and have faced the loss of almost $15,000 per attack, according to the federal government.
How to Avoid data breaches?
For sure, there is not a perfect solution to prevent data breaches. Data protection is as necessary as protecting your home. As you lock your doors every time you go out from home is the similar thing you should do to your data. What should be done to avoid data breaches and cyber attacks? The answer to this question is below:
- There must be centralized access to data and someone inside the organization should control it. This will minimize the risk of a data breach from inside as well as outside. Most of the time the risk of a data breach is from inside thus inside management should be made stronger.
- The regulatory teams must calculate the risk and participate in the security program.
- A firm must quickly react whenever a data breach takes place and should plan a solution according to their needs and priorities.
- Vigilance, constant monitoring and instant awareness are what a security firm should always maintain.
Advanced tools for hacking are continuously being developed which is making it difficult to keep up with the threats. Firms in Canada if continued their current data protection behavior then the time is not far that they would not meet the upcoming business challenges. The federal government has identified the cyber security risk and has launched the consultation project.
Peter Butler, Infosecurity Expert and Journalist
Image Credit: Balefire / Shutterstock