Since early 2020, 42% of Canadians have experienced at least one cyber security incident, including phishing attacks, malware, fraud and hacked accounts.

And more than 36% of those reporting at least one cyber security incident experienced a loss due to the incident. Among those who experienced a loss, the most common was a loss of time for 87% of respondents, a loss of data for 13% of respondents and a financial loss for another 13% of respondents.

October is Cyber Security Awareness Month in Canada – an internationally recognized campaign held annually to inform people of the importance of cyber security.

This year’s theme for Cyber Security Month is “Fight phishing: Ruin a cyber criminal’s day!”

What is a cyber attack? 

cyber attack is an unwelcome attempt to steal, expose, alter, disable or destroy information through unauthorized access to a computer system. The motivation for a cyber attack can vary from criminal to political to personal.

Cyber security threats target critical information like financial data, client lists, customer databases, email addresses and login credentials, intellectual property, sensitive personal data and more.

Cyber security threats in Canada can disrupt and damage enterprise and personal data. For businesses, the average cost of a data breach is $4.24 million globally, and compromised data can lead to a loss of customer trust, regulatory fines and legal action.

How to protect your personal information from cybercrime 

  1. Use an internet security suite 

An internet security suite is a collection of software utilities that protect a user’s computer from viruses and other malware.

The suite serves as a security tactic for protecting activities and transactions conducted online, safeguarding users from threats such as hacking into computer systems, email addresses or websites.

When selecting a security suite, keep in mind the strategies and tactics available. One common solution to help keep your internet usage secure is an antivirus software product, which helps protect devices from attacks by detecting and eliminating viruses. Other alternatives to consider include a password manager, which helps store and organize passwords through encryption, or an endpoint security suite, which is a more comprehensive internet security approach with firewalls, antivirus and antispyware.

  1. Use strong passwords

One of the easiest and zero-cost ways to protect your data from cyber attacks is to use strong passwords. Having a strong and secure password deters hackers from being able to access or enter your accounts.

The longer a password is, the stronger it is. A secure password is at least 12 characters long and difficult to guess.

You can check how strong your password is at by trying something similar to your original password.

  1. Keep your software up to date 

Not updating your software regularly will lead to gaps or weaknesses in the system that make it easier for a hacker to attack.

Updating the operating system on all your devices, including your mobile phone, tablet and computer will help keep your data secure. If available, it’s recommended to enable automatic software updates for all your devices.

  1. Enable multi-factor authentication 

Two-factor or multi-factor authentication is another easy and zero-cost measure that can help protect your data.

Enabling this feature will help block access to malicious hackers that may have acquired your login credentials through malware, email phishing or other methods.

Even if the hacker has access to your credentials, they won’t be able to gain access to your account if two-factor authentication is enabled.

Cyber security course at University Canada West 

University Canada West offers the Data and Web Analytics micro-credential course, which covers relevant topics important for cyber security companies like collecting and processing data, data cleansing, data security and agile thinking.

Students in this online course on cyber security will learn about compliant data gathering and management, as well as best practices for customers and web visitors using the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) frameworks.

University Canada West offers a total of nine micro-credentials, including Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)Certified Digital Marketing ProfessionalSocial Media MarketingBlockchain Project Management Certificate Program,  Online E-CommerceIntroduction to Supply Management and Logistics and Introduction to Project Management.

Published October 21, 2022.