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Playing digital defence: Small businesses are stepping up their cyber security efforts - but gap in preparedness remains: RBC poll

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More small business owners concerned about cyber security threats in increasingly digitized economy

TORONTO, Oct. 18, 2021 /CNW/ - As the economy becomes increasingly digitized, cyber security concerns are rising to the top of business risks as ranked by Canadian small business owners – and for good reason. In a recent survey commissioned by RBC1, nearly half of Canada's small business owners report that they anticipate becoming a victim of a cybercrime in the next 12 months – a percentage significantly higher than seen among the general population (34%). Forty per cent of small businesses identified that having devices infected by a virus or malware is now perceived as their biggest threat, ranking higher than falling victim to an online scam or fraud (24%), or property damage (24%).

RBC Logo (CNW Group/RBC)
RBC Logo (CNW Group/RBC)

"Faced with a fast-changing landscape, small businesses are adapting by adopting more technology and adopting it faster than ever before," says Adam Evans, RBC Chief Information Security Officer, RBC. "Though the increasingly digital economy has brought new challenges for Canada's small businesses, our poll reveals that the risks are accompanied by a growing awareness of these hazards, indicating that small business owners are responding to these risks with the resilience and determination we've come to expect of them."

Minding the gap: Room for improvement remains for those without previous experience of a cyber security incident
While cyber security concerns are on their radar, the poll reveals that only a small number of small business owners (24%) feel 'very' knowledgeable in regard to cyber security threats. That number rises slightly to 27% among those who have experienced a previous cyber security incident. When asked if they feel prepared for a potential cyber-attack, only 16 per cent feel very prepared with 19 per cent of those who have experienced a previous incident feeling very prepared.

The poll revealed that the majority of small business owners are responding to cyber security risks by handling cyber security risks themselves (57%), rather than relying on in-house IT teams (25%) or outsourced IT consultants. In particular, those who haven't previously experienced a cyber security incident (62%) are significantly more likely to take a do-it-yourself approach compared to past victims of cyber security incidents (51%).

The most common preventative measures small businesses have taken are: installing updated anti-virus software (60%), implementing firewall security for internet connections (56%) and encrypting and hiding all Wi-Fi networks (43%).

RBC website provides tools to help small businesses protect their data
"While large organizations are able to maintain robust cyber security protocols, many smaller businesses have difficulty implementing or maintaining cyber security practices, leaving them vulnerable to cyber-attacks," adds Evans.

To address this gap, RBC created the Cyber Security Awareness and Education Website, which is designed to help business owners and the community with the latest in cyber security insights, best practices, tips, and guidelines.

To develop their cyber security mitigation and crisis management plans, small businesses can consider:

  1. Prioritizing measures including multi-factor authentication, mandatory employee training and limited authority to install software.

  2. Thinking through risks and create a prioritized list of possible cyber events unique to the organization.

  3. Identifying key stakeholders and putting together a list of key contact information, both technical and non-technical persons in the event their services or contact is needed.

  4. Outlining an engagement procedure, which will guide the organization's plan in response to a cyber event, detailing how events will be handled and communicated.

  5. Creating a communications template used to address impacted parties in the event of a cyber security incident.

More information on how to adequately prepare and protect your small business against cyber security incidents can be found at https://www.rbc.com/cyber-security/.

1About the Survey
The RBC 2021 Cyber Security Poll was conducted by Ipsos Canada from August 24-27, 2021. More than 3,000 surveys were completed online by Canadian adults, represented in six different regions (British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan/Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec and Atlantic Canada). Representative sample results are weighted to reflect the Canadian population. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll is accurate to within ± 1.8 percentage points had all Canadian adults been polled. The credibility interval will be wider among subsets of the population represented. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to, coverage error, and measurement error.

About RBC
Royal Bank of Canada is a global financial institution with a purpose-driven, principles-led approach to delivering leading performance. Our success comes from the 88,000+ employees who leverage their imaginations and insights to bring our vision, values and strategy to life so we can help our clients thrive and communities prosper. As Canada's biggest bank, and one of the largest in the world based on market capitalization, we have a diversified business model with a focus on innovation and providing exceptional experiences to our 17 million clients in Canada, the U.S. and 27 other countries. Learn more at rbc.com.‎

We are proud to support a broad range of community initiatives through donations, community investments and employee volunteer activities. See how at rbc.com/community-social-impact.

SOURCE RBC

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