WHAT IS A “CYBERSECURITY INCIDENT”?

Cybersecurity incidents are crimes committed using a computer or the Internet (either a physical or digital intrusion) with the aim of infiltrating an organization’s information systems to cause damage, obtain confidential data, or both. Depriving organizations of access to their own data or servers can also be a goal of the perpetrators (those who commit cyber crimes), who can then extort organizations or resell the stolen data for profit.

Here are some examples of different types of cybersecurity incidents:

  • Ransomware – When malicious software gains access to a company’s network and encrypts all or part of the files it contains. The company can no longer access the encrypted files, unless a ransom is paid, failing which the files could become irrecoverable. A variant has been added in recent years to encourage payment of the ransom: threat authors duplicate sensitive files before initiating encryption, and in this way not only deprive victims of access to their data, but also threaten the disclosure of sensitive information if the ransom is not paid, in order to inflict reputational damage on companies.
  • Internal attacks – When trusted employees maliciously abuse access to a company’s systems to steal or damage sensitive data. Although these attacks are generally intentional in nature, they can also occur as a result of actions taken by an employee, for example by failing to apply best practices when accessing a company’s network, thus inadvertently causing a breach.
  • DoS attacks – When threat authors intentionally overwhelm a company’s website, making it inaccessible for business purposes. They can also be used to distract businesses while threat writers attempt to gain access to the company’s system and steal confidential information such as the credit card details of the company’s customers.
  • Phishing – When threat authors use devious techniques to trick recipients into taking action. The most typical example is high-volume e-mail campaigns that are automated and sent to a large audience in the hope that a small percentage of recipients will “take the bait” and click on a link that could automatically download malware onto a server to cause damage or steal sensitive information. Emails generally appear to come from a reliable source and create a sense of urgency. For example, e-mails apparently sent by your bank informing you that your account has been compromised and asking you to take immediate action to secure your account by clicking on a specific link.

WHO’S AT RISK?

The short answer is that any entity using computers or the Internet as part of its business activities is at risk. However, there is a notable trend in terms of who threat authors perceive as the most attractive target: small and medium-sized businesses. The reason is simple: larger, more established companies tend to have the resources to implement a more complex security architecture to protect themselves from threats. Small and medium-sized businesses tend to be less inclined to invest their hard-earned business growth capital in implementing network security solutions, which can be costly and time-consuming for a relatively smaller team.

There’s also a question of perception. Simply put, until it happens, no one really believes they’re at risk of cyber-attacks or understands how debilitating such events can be for their business.

The number of successful cyber attacks in Canada is rising sharply year on year, with a more profitable “success rate” – successful attacks that become an incident . What’s more, the downtime associated with these attacks is also increasing: small and medium-sized businesses can expect downtime ranging from 12 to 18 days, with full system restoration taking an average of 25.6 days. The changing political landscape and the growing use of cyberwarfare for geopolitical gain are fuelling predictions of an increase in digital security events for the foreseeable future. Cyber attacks have become an undeniable threat to our economy, and a global call to action has been issued to increase industry’s resilience and recovery capabilities.

YOUR TEAM

MARY DELLI QUADRI

Lawyer, Partner

ALEXANDRA KALLOS

Senior lawyer

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