Cybersecurity is one of the largest concerns facing businesses today. There is no real debate about it, particularly considering the massive cyber-attack that hit over 150,000 organizations in more than 100 countries. As business software and technical capabilities increase, so do the abilities of hackers and cyber-extortionists – and data ransoming is only one of the latest actions employed by online business pirates.
Large corporations tend to take robust measures to guard against cyber-attacks, but even some of those are compromised occasionally. Nearly all large corporations are spending increasingly large portions of their available IT budget on cybersecurity measures. Many smaller businesses, including small, entrepreneurial companies, are realizing that they are not exempt from online piracy – especially as hackers realize that smaller businesses are an easy target. And most medium-small businesses do not have adequate protection measures, which means they play an ongoing game of Russian roulette.
The financial numbers are alarming. According to the World Economic Forum, businesses worldwide are likely to be hit by cyber-attacks that cause roughly $2 trillion in total damages. Further, if proper security measures are not developed and deployed, that number could rise to as high as $90 trillion over the course of the following decade. Cyber-liability insurance policies are multiplying rapidly, with premiums expected to triple in the next few years – reaching a total as high as $7.5 billion.Canada currently sits in a unique position – vulnerable in many ways, like every other nation on Earth, but poised to be a true world leader in the area of cybersecurity. If the Canadian government and Canadian companies continue to support cybersecurity initiatives, like the recent startup hubs, Canada has the capacity and resources to lead into the future.
Solid, extensive human capital
For obvious reasons, Toronto has been the Canadian pioneer in this effort. Consider the following:
- Every major Canadian bank is headquartered in Toronto.
- Over 400,000 people are employed in the Toronto region’s technology sector.
- Half of Canada’s FinTech employees (30,000 people) are based in the Toronto region.
- Ontario has nine university-level cybersecurity degree programs.
In addition to Toronto, there are other Canadian cities with strong technology foundations. Ottawa and Vancouver, for example, are home to many large companies and non-profit organizations that focus heavily on cybersecurity.
The Canadian economy has suffered cyber-attack hits that have cost billions of dollars in real losses. These attacks have targeted a wide range of organizations in multiple sensitive fields. Particularly due to national security issues, Canadian lawmakers are examining the issue more closely and taking coordinated measures to stem the rising tide. They are considering stronger regulations, more active cooperation with businesses and non-profit organizations, and increased funding. Their latest budget includes almost $1 billion for technologies and initiatives that have direct impacts on cybersecurity. Finally, they are consulting with Israel, the world-wide leader in cybersecurity and cyber-defense initiatives, about ways to strengthen Canada’s cybersecurity systems – and modeling Israel’s National Cyber Directorate and its efforts is a real possibility.
Based on the number of new venture capital initiatives focused exclusively or primarily on cybersecurity, Canada ranks 4th world-wide as a cybersecurity innovator. As mentioned, cybersecurity-related university degrees are on the rise, creating an increasingly expert pool of technicians who are trained to combat cyberthreats. The Canadian Institute for Cybersecurity has been created as a network security research and development centre. Finally, one positive result of the new American protectionist policies is the anticipated retention of more Canadian experts and graduating university students, as well as an influx of foreign talent and business relocations.
Calgary is home to the largest number of technology start-ups per capita and home to the highest per capita number of corporate headquarters and small businesses in Canada. The ITeam understands the cybersecurity issues facing Canada in general and Alberta, specifically, and we are dedicated to helping make Alberta the centre of cyber strength and innovation. We believe Alberta can have a major influence within the national discussion of this critical issue. The ITeam is dedicated to making that happen, and we are excited about partnering with businesses and other organizations to realize this vision.