Costs of cyberattacks escalate – business leaders need active strategies to protect their businesses according to the Chamber of Commerce

A new report from the Canadian Chamber of Commerce highlights the real economic costs of cybersecurity attacks and recommends that business and government coordinate to help ensure that Canadians are protected.

Scott Smith

Scott Smith, Director of Intellectual Property & Innovation Policy at the Chamber of Commerce

Did you know that your credit card number is worth about $1 on the black market? Your health records or other material that could be used by identity thieves can fetch upwards of $10. A new report from the Canadian Chamber of Commerce highlights the real economic costs of cybersecurity attacks and recommends that business and government coordinate to help ensure that Canadians are protected.

We asked Scott Smith, Director of Intellectual Property & Innovation Policy at the Chamber of Commerce for a few highlights from the report.

Small businesses were somewhat less prepared. More than half had invested nothing in cybersecurity training and just over two-thirds were employing a firewall.

Ryan: Thanks for this report Scott. It’s obviously a timely conversation given recent ransomware attacks. Can you help us understand a bit about the scope and scale of the risk?

Scott: The threat here is not theoretical. In a global study by Allianz, 34 percent of large organizations and 21 percent of small to mid-sized organizations pointed to cyber incidents as a leading risk to global business. This means it ranks it higher than the physical risks like fire, theft, or defects and above political risks like political instability and terrorism.

In a survey from PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), 32 percent of respondents reported that they had experienced cybercrime and according to IT consultant Scalar more than half of businesses they surveyed reported a loss or exposure of sensitive data in the last 12 months.

Businesses are paying attention to this threat and according to Canadian Underwriter 40 percent of boards are now participating in cybersecurity response in their organizations.

Ryan: What is the cost of cybercrime for business?

Scott: There are real costs associated with these risks. MacAffee, provider of anti-virus software, places the global cost of cybercrime at $45 billion.

While the experience of individual firms may vary widely, the Chamber of Commerce cites data from IBM that places the average cost of a data breach at $6.03 million or $258 per record.

Cyber insurance has surfaced as a way for companies to mitigate this risk and PwC forecasts that the global market for these policies will be $7.5 billion by 2020.

Ryan: What are the specific problems faced by SMEs?

Scott: Visa reports that 95% of the credit card breaches it discovers are from its smallest business customers. We know that there are real challenges for small and medium-sized companies in this environment. Small businesses may be less equipped to handle an attack due to a lack of resources and the personal or financial information they house is often less protected.

Ryan: You looked at the tools businesses are using to mitigate these issues, can you discuss how prepared companies are?

Scott: We surveyed Canadian businesses and found that the majority employed tactics such as firewalls and antivirus software. Larger businesses were much more likely to invest in a full suite of cybersecurity solutions.

Small businesses were somewhat less prepared. More than half had invested nothing in cybersecurity training and just over two-thirds were employing a firewall.

Businesses of all sizes need to take cybersecurity seriously. It needs to be acknowledged as risk management exercise that the whole business undertakes…not just the IT department. Undertaking the steps toward the certification that we outlined in our workshops would go a long way to helping businesses understand the value of their data at risk and what it takes to be back up and running quickly in the event of a breach – that’s resilience.


The full report from the Chamber of Commerce is available online. If you are looking to beef-up your response to cyber-threats, CIRA may be able to help support. Learn more about CIRA’s D-Zone Anycast and Firewall solutions.

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