Cybersecurity involves practices and measures to protect networks, systems, and software from digital attacks. In Canada, cybercrime affects individual users and businesses and is a growing threat due to the growth of the digital marketplace.
In 2017 alone, 1/5 of all businesses in Canada reported cybercrime incidents that had a negative impact on their operations. More than 72 million identity theft incidents were reported during the same year. Losses to business go beyond financial loss and include expenses incurred for fraud monitoring and training, reputational damage, and costs to recover information and assets. Cybercrime also results in loss of confidence, threats to the safety of consumer privacy, and even breach of national security.
Cybercrime is also a real problem because it has many faces. There are many types of crime such as attacks on computer networks and servers, denial of service, cyber terrorism, bullying and stalking, identity theft, recruiting terrorists online, spreading violent messages, and interception of communications. Other types of crime include fraud involving electronic funds transfers, investment fraud, online vandalism, tax evasion and money laundering, and piracy. More resources about credit and fraud find here.
Some 58 percent of businesses in Canada have policies to identify risks, and the majority of them or 85 percent have taken steps to monitor their business and network systems. Employee activities are monitored by only 38 percent of businesses, and just 13 percent have implemented policies and measures to report and deal with incidents. On the other hand, the majority of Canadian businesses have staff tasked with cybersecurity, including 83 percent of medium-sized companies and 91 percent of large companies. In total, 67 percent of companies, including small, medium-sized, and large, have 1 to 5 employees tasked with monitoring their business and network systems. Some 95 percent of businesses in Canada have some type of security measures such as firewalls and other network security measures, email security, and anti-malware software. At the same time, 32 percent of businesses do not use network security measures and 24 percent do not have firewalls.
The Canadian government has adopted a National Cybersecurity Strategy in response to security threats. The goal is to protect Canadian government agencies, businesses, and individual users from fraud and other forms of crime by adequately responding to evolving security threats. Coordination between international, territorial, provincial, and federal partners and law enforcement agencies is essential to this end.
One of the main goals is to protect communication networks, financial establishments, and electricity grids that are often targeted as forms of digital infrastructure. Cyber innovation is also a pillar on which the strategy is based and includes measures to improve digital literacy as a way to combat cybercrime. One initiative is the Digital Literacy Exchange Program that targets people living in rural and northern areas, indigenous communities, low-income people, newcomers, and seniors - more resources here. The goal is to provide training to help Canadians develop basic computer skills so that they can access online resources safely. Close to $30 million is allotted to non-government organizations that provide training in community centres, senior homes, refugee housing complexes, libraries, and other facilities.
Different agencies and institutions in Canada are tasked with dealing with cyber incidents and other security issues. These include the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Communications Security Establishment Canada, and the Department of National Defense. Communications Security Establishment Canada is tasked with cyber foreign intelligence and offers advice and assistance to government departments and agencies to respond to cybercrime. Public Safety Canada is a department responsible for protecting Canadians from safety threats such as terrorism, crime, and natural disasters. The Canadian Centre for Cyber Security issues alerts on imminent and potential security threats and works with businesses and institutions across critical infrastructure sectors such as transportation, manufacturing, energy and utilities, food, and safety. Other sectors include information and communication technology, water, finance, government, and health. The Learning Hub offers advice and guidance on education and training offered by government agencies, academic institutions, and industry players. Featured courses focus on information technology risk security management, online exposure and threat to privacy, and possible threats.
Cyber-attacks are a real threat today, and the main reasons are accessible software applications and social media websites. IT security professionals are in high demand in Canada, and prestigious universities such as Concordia University and the University of Winnipeg offer programs with a focus on information systems security.
The University of Winnipeg features a program in Network Security and training in network standards and protocols. Students are offered a selection of courses such as SISCO collaboration, applied windows server administration, python scripting, and applied open source server administration. Concordia University offers a Master’s Degree in IT Security to help students learn to manage, analyze, and design information systems. They must complete 45 credits and take courses such as security evaluation methodologies, crypto-protocol and network security, and foundations of cryptography. Fanshawe University features a program in Information Security Management (graduate certificate) to help students learn how to keep data secure. Students master different skills and learn to implement controls, develop security policies, and conduct risk analysis. They choose from a selection of courses such as digital forensics, ethical hacking & exploits, security applications, and routing & switching. Georgian College is another institution that offers a program in Information Systems Security with a length of 1 year. Students are offered courses, lectures by industry guest speakers, and field trips. The curriculum includes courses such as monitoring and log management, applied cryptography, and Linux systems security. During the application process, students submit a letter of interest and a resume and are also asked to provide criminal reference. The University of Ontario Institute of Technology features a Master’s Degree in Technology Security which has duration of 24 months. The curriculum covers a variety of topics and subjects, including attack and defense, risk management and security policies, and operating systems security. Students choose from a selection of courses such as secure software systems, advanced communication networks, and cryptography and secure communications. Centennial College offers a program in Computer Systems Technology – Networking with a length of two years. Graduates have a wide choice of certifications to pursue, including Cisco CCNA, Microsoft MTA, Linux+, and Security+.
A Deloitte study reveals that businesses are expected to open some 8,000 network security positions by 2021. Professionals in Canada work as server administrators, network administrators, security specialists, and cyber security engineers. They can also work as risk management analysts, cyber threat intelligence analysts, product security analysts, and security consultants. Graduates can choose from different career paths, including VoIP administrators, cloud technicians, and wireless network technicians. The median salary of network administrators is around $67,190 and ranges from $47,500 in Manitoba to $75,000 in Alberta. Different institutions and companies in Canada offer jobs, including IBM, Enbridge, CIBC Mellon Trust, the Ministry of Government Services, and AIM Funds Management Inc. IT security professionals work for financial institutions, government agencies and institutions, and IT companies. They also work for communication service and Internet providers, educational institutions, and hospitals.