Canadian small businesses get another cybersecurity training resource

Members of Canada’s small business lobby group will have access to free online cybersecurity training in a few months, including lessons on ways to stop phishing and ransomware attacks.

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB), which says it has 95,000 members across Canada, said Monday it will soon launch a Cybersecurity Academy to help expand the security awareness of company owners and employees.

It will feature training modules offered on the Horizn gamification platform that are based on cybersecurity education resources from Mastercard’s Trust Centre. Those using the platform will earn points towards incentives such as badges and possibly cash, said Mandy D’Autremont, the CFIB’s senior director of marketing partnerships.

The academy will launch either in the spring or summer, she said.

Meanwhile the CFIB will host a members-only cybersecurity webinar on Thursday.

The announcement of the academy came in conjunction with the release of a CFIB survey in which 72 per cent of small business owners agreed they are more concerned than ever about cyberattacks on their businesses.  One in four (24 per cent) of respondents saw an increase in cyberattack attempts against their business in the last year.

Eight per cent of respondents said they were victims of a cyberattack that cost time or money in the last 12 months. On average, these businesses lost C$26,000, including the value of lost time.

The impact on small firms of these attacks can be immense, the federation said in a news release, with some losing as much as C$500,000, and others reporting a long-term impact on their operations and reputation.

The CFIB Cybersecurity Academy adds another free resource for small and medium businesses. Others include content from the federal government’s Canadian Centre for Cyber Security and the SImply Secure program offered by Ryerson University’s Rogers Cybersecure Catalyst.

The goal of the academy is to help make small business owners and staff understand how to better protect their businesses, D’Autremont said in an interview. “Overall it [a cyber attack] can be pretty scary for a business,” she said.

D’Auteremont acknowledged that many small businesses think they’re too small to be attacked. “That’s part of what we’re hoping to communicate to small businesses — that they’re not too small to be targeted or the victim of a cyber attack. They could be targeted for their employee or banking information, or for their data, to help an attacker get information about the bank the business works with. They could be the door for an attack into a supplier. And they can be held for ransom.”

Initially, the academy will offer six training modules through Horizn: Cybersecurity basics; how to stop phishing and ransomware; how to identify attacks through social media; how to recognize fraud; how to deal with online chargebacks; and how to create a credit card code of conduct.

Asked how she would define the success of the academy, D’Autremont said that “it would be great to get at least half of CFIB members through this training program by the end of this year.”

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Howard Solomon
Howard Solomon
Currently a freelance writer. Former editor of and Computing Canada. An IT journalist since 1997, Howard has written for several of ITWC's sister publications, including Before arriving at ITWC he served as a staff reporter at the Calgary Herald and the Brampton (Ont.) Daily Times.

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