There is what appears to be a global rush to reach a stage where almost everything can be done online, from operating household items to running entire companies reliant on remote workers. However, it is increasingly important to be aware of the dangers lurking within the web and how they can be prevented. Cyber crime is a global problem, to the extent that consumer loss through cyber crime in China amounted to 66.3 billion U.S. dollars in 2017, with the U.S. losing just over 19 billion. Further, of the global data breach incidents reported in the same year, 69 percent involved identity theft.

Although Canada lags a little behind in terms of the size and functionality of its digital landscape, this has not stopped cyber crime from becoming an issue. The most recent data shows that 23 percent of surveyed Canadian organizations that experienced a cyber attack reported having been victim of extortion as a consequence. Moreover, 31 percent of Canadian organizations reported an estimated loss of one to fifty thousand U.S. dollars as a result of cyber attacks, with five percent reporting estimated losses of between five and one hundred million dollars.

A greater awareness of cyber crime in general can help in tackling and preventing online security breaches, however, 22 percent of medium-sized Canadian organizations admitted that they were not planning to invest in long-term cyber security training , and 55 percent of small organizations said the same. These figures are cause for concern, as 17 percent of Canadian SMEs said that their company would cease functioning immediately if they were to lose access to their digital files and network . Given that 34 percent of small to medium-sized enterprises were locked out of company devices or networks as a direct consequence of a cyber attack , it may now be time for SMEs to take online security more seriously.

Attitudes and behavior among Canadian consumers present a similar problem in terms of crime prevention and awareness. Surprisingly, the most recent data shows that those who have been victims of cyber crime exercise less caution with regards to their passwords to online devices or accounts than those who have not. When asked if they shared their passwords for their social media accounts with others, 22 percent of cyber-crime victims said that they did, compared to just 14 percent of non-cyber crime victims. Even more worryingly, data pertaining to online behavior revealed that 12 percent of surveyed Canadians believed it is sometimes acceptable to access someone’s financial accounts without their permission.

Ultimately, despite Canada’s comparatively slow pace in the global rush to make everything digitized and available online, cyber crime is a prevalent issue and attitudes and behaviors need to adapt in order to prevent future problems. With police-reported instances of cyber crime growing from just over 15,000 to almost 24 thousand in two years, the time has come for Canadian businesses and consumers to more actively preempt and resolve online security issues and ensure that Canada’s digital future is secure.


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