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Spotlight on Cybersecurity

Spotlight on Cybersecurity

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Engaging in cybersecurity practices protects one’s self and one’s business from the threats of cyber-crime, identity theft, and other dangers of operating online.

Did you know?

In 2016, there were nearly 24,000 cyber-related violations reported in Canada.

Source: StatsCan

The following Spotlight on Cybersecurity is intended to provide Canadian exporters with the background knowledge and tools necessary to protect their business against cyber threats. From understanding who commits cyber-crimes and their motives, to what can be done to prevent them, this short guide can help you to understand and employ cybersecurity measures.

What is cybersecurity?

Cybersecurity is generally understood to encompass any measure taken to protect online information and any asset connected to a network (e.g. data, information, hardware, among others), and secure the infrastructure on which it resides.

The Canadian Trade Commissioner Service (TCS) is pleased to introduce the following Spotlight on Cybersecurity to help Canadian exporters to take preventative measures to mitigate risks and protect their interests digitally or in person when conducting business outside of Canada and engaging in commercial exchanges with potential buyers, suppliers or partners.

Cyberspace versus cyber-attacks

Cyberspace is the electronic world created by interconnected networks where more than three billion people are linked together. Canadians are embracing cyberspace (88.5% of Canada’s population uses the internet). The worldwide embrace of cyberspace in recent decades, though, has not come without its dangers. One’s personal or professional data online might be compromised by a cyber-attack. Cyber-attacks include the unintentional or unauthorized access, use, manipulation, interruption, or destruction of electronic information and/or the electronic and physical infrastructure used to process, communicate, and/or store that information. Therefore, it is important for users of cyberspace to protect themselves against potential cyber-attacks – efforts to do this fall under the term cybersecurity.

Common cyber-attacks:

Tips and tricks to safeguard against cyber-attacks:

Did you know?

You can insure your business against cyber-attacks.  Cyber liability insurance will help you handle the associated costs that come along with a breach.

Sector focus:

Manufacturers are increasingly being targeted, not just by traditional malicious actors such as hackers and cyber criminals, but by competing companies and nations engaged in corporate espionage. Motivations range from money and revenge to competitive advantage and strategic disruption. Auto manufacturers were the top targeted manufacturing sub-industry, accounting for approx. 30% of total attacks against the industry in 2015.

Understanding cyber threats

Did you know?

Hackers do not just focus on large corporations. Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are commonly targeted as they are less prepared for an attack making their data more vulnerable. SMEs also offer a back-channel entrance to larger players in their respective value chains.

Most cyber-attacks share four (4) common characteristics that account for their growing popularity (among hackers) and their increase in the frequency of occurrences.

Sector Focus:

Retail organizations are increasingly being targeted, primarily for credit card data. Cyber criminals are becoming more sophisticated, tapping into an ever-expanding toolkit of new techniques to access massive quantities of confidential records more efficiently than ever. Threats to retail may include data breaches, denial of service, third party payment breach, and insider man-in-the-middle attacks. The U.S. is typically one of the largest targets in this underground market

Who is carrying out cyber-crime?

Today, hackers are divided into four (4) categories:

Terrorist use of the internet: Terrorists are aware of the potential for using the Western world’s dependence on cyber systems as an exploitable vulnerability.

Sector focuses:

Critical Infrastructure
Attacks on critical infrastructure have become a growing cause of concern for governments and private providers around the world – whether inflicted by cybercriminals seeking financial gain or by hackers as political acts aimed at undermining governments’ and companies’ credibility. The increase of infrastructures running on internet-facing networks has led to an increase in the number of cyber-attacks to the same infrastructures.

Threats may include cyber espionage, national security information loss, disruption of critical infrastructure and national defence, disclosure of tax payers personal and business information, loss or theft of resources, insider man-in-the-middle attack, or hacktivism.

High Tech
Unlike the previous examples, ICT companies are often the organizations making it possible for the previously mentioned companies to manage, process, and share data. Cyber criminals are targeting their networks to obtain sensitive data. The most recent breaches were the result of attacks that exposed financial and credit card data, and volumes of personally identifiable information.

Administer cybersecurity prevention (5 key areas):

Sector focus:

Healthcare records represent an attractive target for cyber criminals, containing as they do various bits of sensitive information, such as social security numbers, all in one place. The global healthcare cybersecurity market size was valued at nearly USD $5.5 billion in 2014. Key factors attributing to its rapid growth include the threat of cyber-attacks, regulatory and security compliance related issues, and data leaks from within the organization triggered by external or internal factors. Furthermore, increasing instances of patent infringement, theft of intellectual property, business secrets, medical identity fraud, and loss of electronic patient health records (E-PHI) and social security records are also expected to boost the usage of products in the field of healthcare.

International issues related to cybersecurity:

Sector focus:

Banking and Financial Services
The banking and financial services sector has been a prime target for cyber criminals over the last five years. Some examples of the methods cyber criminals use to target this sector include: account takeovers, third party payment breach, market trading exploitation, ATM skimming, mobile banking exploitation, and insider man-in-the-middle attack.

How the TCS can help


Cyber-attacks can result in more than monetary losses due to lost time and data recovery. Invest in security training to avoid potential damage to your company’s reputation and relationships with customers and partners.

The Canadian Trade Commissioner Service (TCS) can provide owners and representatives of SMEs with valuable insight into new markets that takes into account cyber risks. Most notably, the TCS connects clients with qualified contacts so as to prevent interactions with fraudulent websites and companies, and reduce the risk of identity theft.

Are you ready to export?

The Step-by-Step Guide to Exporting will help you to:

Download this free guide and gain access to all TCS export publications through MY TCS.

Additional resources on cybersecurity:

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