Business, government urged to do more in combating cyber attacks

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There are far too many Canadian businesses not doing enough to counter the increase in cyber attacks, threats and breaches, according to the Canadian Survey on Business Conditions.

Less than 20 per cent of Canadian businesses are implementing technological improvements to their supply chains to counter to protect their operations against cyber attack, the quarterly survey from the Canadian Chamber of Commerce and Statistics Canada revealed.

“It is absolutely essential that cybersecurity be part of any discussion on supply chain resilience moving forward,” Ulrike Bahr-Gedalia, Senior Director of Digital Economy, Technology & Innovation at the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, said in responding to the survey results.

Bahr-Gedalia pointed out that while attacks against large organizations often grab headlines, the vast majority of attacks are on small businesses.

“Modern supply chains often involve hundreds of vendors to build a single product, providing attackers with multiple points of entry to disrupt a supply chain. It is imperative that we strengthen cybersecurity safeguards to secure our supply chains against these threats,” Bahr-Gedalia reaffirmed.

The Canadian Chamber of Commerce also wants the federal government to make cyber security a significant priority in its 2022 budget.

In an open letter to Ottawa, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce states: “The federal government’s chief of Communications Security  Establishment (CSE), Shelly Bruce has gone on record stating that cybercrime is the ‘most prevalent, most pervasive threat to Canadians and Canadian businesses.’ What more needs to happen to prompt government to get serious about cybersecurity?

The  organization wants the Canadian government to raise the bar on cybersecurity in the 2022 federal budget by undertaking the following three actions to ensure infrastructure is resilient to cyber attacks.

  • Secure critical infrastructure, supply chains, and businesses of all sizes from cyber threats by investing in cybersecurity on par with our G7 peers;
  • Grow the economy by accelerating the commercialization of cybersecurity innovation in Canada and with our trading partners; and
  • Bolster Canada’s cybersecurity workforce by investing in cybersecurity education, talent development, retention and programs that diversify and expand the cyber workforce.

The federal government did provide about $1.5 billion total in funding in its 2021 budget to bolster some parts of the government’s own cyber defences.

“This was important. But the scope for the funding was very narrow and the dollar figure will not sufficiently address the scope of Canada’s weaknesses. Even if the federal government were to only concern itself with its own safety (which would be unwise), the approach is still far too narrow,” the Canadian Chamber of Commerce argues in its open letter, adding that organizations conducting business with the federal government are prime targets of supply chain attacks and saw a significant increase of 42% in the first quarter of 2021.

“With the pace of digitalization accelerating globally – especially since March 2020 –  Canada simply cannot afford to leave our businesses, infrastructure and communities exposed to cyber threats. The time to act on cybersecurity is right now,” the open letter to Ottawa concludes.

The Canadian Chamber of Commerce is Canada’s largest business network — representing 450 chambers of commerce and boards of trade and more than 200,000 businesses of all sizes, from all sectors of the economy.

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