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Cybersecurity breaches more than double among Canadian businesses: report

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A new report has found that the number of successful cybersecurity breaches has more than doubled for Canadian businesses in the past year, despite a downward trend in cyberattacks overall.

Released on June 13 by CDW Canada, in partnership with International Data Corp. Canada, the report is based on a survey of more than 500 people involved in IT security, risk and compliance.

The survey took place between December 2022 and January 2023. A spokesperson for the company confirmed that respondents were asked how many incidents occurred at their organization in the last 12 months, up until the last survey that was done between December 2021 and January 2022.

While respondents identified fewer cyberattacks in the 2023 report than in the 2022 report – 344 compared to 419 – the number of breaches, or unauthorized removal of data or files, involving organizations increased 130 per cent to 30 from 13.

At the same time, the number of denial of service (DoS) attacks, where a flood of incoming messages forces a system to shut down, rose to 30 in the 2023 report from 11 in the 2022 report.

Infiltrations, or unauthorized access but where no data is removed, also increased to 29 from 11 over the same period.

In the 2021 report, there were 514 reported cyberattacks including 14 breaches and 440 attacks with 12 breaches in the 2020 report.

CDW points to the "sophistication" of cyberattacks as a factor, as well as the use of "greater entry points" through cloud infrastructure and endpoints – or physical devices such as a mobile phone, desktop, security systems and smart speakers that exchange information with a computer network.

CDW Canada says this is an indication that "threat detection and response is falling short amidst an increasingly challenging IT environment."

"While organizations are taking steps in the right direction to secure their IT assets, there is room for improvement to protect data and devices spread across various networks," the company said in a news release.

Of the 1,689 Canadian IT professionals selected to participate in the survey, 553 responded for a response rate of almost 33 per cent.

Respondents include those from organizations with at least 15 full-time employees and at least 10 per cent of all employees being located in Canada.

Twenty-three per cent of the responding organizations were defined as small or having between 15 and 249 full-time employees in Canada, 51 per cent as medium-large or having between 250 and 4,999 employees, and 26 per cent as enterprise meaning they have 5,000 or more full-time employees in Canada.

ATTACKS ON PUBLIC SECTOR, EDUCATION MOST SUCCESSFUL

Looking across industries, the government and education sectors had the highest number of successful breaches at 13 and nine per cent, respectively.

By comparison, the success or "hit" rate in the financial services, health-care and energy sectors were eight, seven and five per cent, respectively.

Between small, medium-large and enterprise organizations, the hit rates were eight, seven and nine per cent each.

THREAT DETECTION 'FALLING SHORT'

The report says Canadian organizations are "falling short" on threat detection, with the average time to detect a cyberincident being 7.1 days, while a response can take as long as 14.9 days.

With the average recovery time being 25.6 days, CDW Canada says this adds up to about 48 days in total to manage an incident.

"This delay puts Canadian organizations at greater risk of reinfection, loss of customer trust and higher incident recovery costs," the report says.

LARGE AMOUNTS OF DATA STORED IN CLOUD

Despite the surveyed organizations storing 54 per cent of their internal data in the cloud, along with 36 per cent of sensitive confidential data and 28 per cent of secret highly restricted data, they committed only 13 per cent of their budgets on average to secure their clouds.

"Cloud infrastructure allows businesses of all sizes to scale and be agile in hybrid and remote work environments," Ivo Wiens, practice lead for cybersecurity at CDW Canada, said in the company's news release.

"However, rapid adoption without necessary security practices leaves an organization's sensitive data easy for cyberattackers to access."

SKILLS GAP

Another factor CDW Canada highlights is a reported IT security skills gap, something that 62 per cent of the organizations surveyed say has reduced their ability to prevent incidents.

Fifty-nine per cent of respondents say automation could help improve the efficiency of their security operations.

CDW Canada says this could potentially free up analysts to devote more of their time to important tasks such as investigations and hunting down threats.

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