Small and medium-sized businesses are less likely to have strong, expensive protection against hackers. (iStock)

Small, medium businesses wary of increasing cyberattacks

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As larger corporations step up their defences against cyberattacks, hackers are turning their attention to smaller companies. 

“There certainly is…a pretty high risk that (attacks) are going to happen,” says Corinne Pohlmann, a vice-president with the Canadian Federation of Independent Business. “I think that has become much more prevalent over the last several years. And a  lot of small businesses are probably exposed to a much greater degree than they once were.”

Pohlmann says almost any small business will tell you that they have seen suspicious emails come in as well as phishing scams. “I would say it’s fairly prevalent.”

Employees should be trained to look out for suspicious emails, say experts. (iStock)

Ransomware and sneaky emails used by hackers

Hackers have used ransomware to lock companies out of their own systems and then demanded money to unlock them. And they sometimes use the emails of unsuspecting employees to find a way to hack into company systems. 

“We do know that most small businesses in Canada have at least basic computer security software,” says Pohlmann. “But in addition to that, of course, they should probably do an evaluation of what type of data they’re actually holding and what could potentially be a target for scammers, and then understand how they are keeping that sort of data secure.

“Also they really to make sure that if they have employees, those employees are aware as well of what they need to look out for.”

Expert advice too expensive for some

Not all small companies have the ability to evaluate their data and to build firewalls around their systems. And many cannot afford to hire expert help.

Pohlmann is not sure whether governments should offer help but she hopes that at least guidance and information could be provided by organizations like the RCMP national police service and the Competition Bureau, which is an independent Canadian law enforcement agency. 

Corinne Pohlmann outlines growing cybersecurity threats to small and medium sized businesses in Canada. (Canadian Federation of Independent Business)
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