It’s Privacy Awareness Week: Here’s What You Need to Know

Cybersecurity has always been, and continues to be, one of the biggest challenges for businesses of all sizes. Particularly as advancements have led to a growing dependence on technology and staying connected to the digital world, cybercrime has only continued to grow in recent years. While the internet has created new opportunities by allowing businesses of all sizes to reach new and larger markets around the world, digitization brings an inherent risk of data breaches, as cybercriminals will try to use vulnerabilities in a company’s network to access secure data and systems. The fact is that everything we do online leaves a trail of personal data that can be tracked, analyzed, and monitored, which can leave your company vulnerable if you do not take the proper preventative measures. This Privacy Awareness Week, it is then important that businesses of all sizes think about their cybersecurity and the steps that they can be taking to protect their company from a cyberattack.       

What is Privacy Awareness Week?

If you have not heard of it before, you may find yourself wondering, “what is Privacy Awareness Week?” Privacy Awareness Week is a global effort coordinated by members of the Asia Pacific Privacy Authorities (APPA) held in May of each year that helps promote awareness about the importance of privacy issues and protecting personal information. Members of APPA, including The Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, help support Privacy Awareness Week by developing resources that spread awareness of privacy issues and that help individuals and businesses better protect themselves against the latest privacy threats.   

Why is Privacy Awareness Week Important?

Privacy Awareness Week provides a great opportunity to educate individuals and businesses on the importance of keeping personal data secure. This is particularly important for small and medium-sized businesses, who often underestimate the threat a cyberattack poses. There is often a misconception amongst small business owners that they do not need to worry about their cybersecurity, as they believe that cybercriminals are more likely to go after a large company; however, the opposite is true. 


The fact is that cybercriminals often see small businesses as an easy target, and recent studies have shown small businesses are three times more likely to be targeted by cybercriminals than larger companies. The reality is that cyberattacks against small businesses are an all too common occurrence, as cyberattacks against small businesses have increased by over 600% since the start of the pandemic.


Unfortunately, these cyberattacks can be devastating, as the average data breach costs companies close to $4 million, putting over 60% of small businesses that are victims of cyberattacks out of business within six months. Cyber Awareness Week then provides the perfect opportunity for businesses to re-evaluate their cybersecurity measures in order to ensure that they are doing what they can to prevent a data breach at their company.     

What Steps Can I Take to Improve Cybersecurity During Privacy Awareness Week?

While cyberattacks against small businesses have been on the rise over the last two years, this does not mean that there aren’t steps that you can take to protect your company from a potential data breach. In fact, it is more important than ever that you stay on top of cybersecurity best practices and that you continually re-evaluate your cybersecurity measures to ensure that you are doing everything in your power to protect your company. With Privacy Awareness Week upon us, now is the perfect time to take a second look at whether your company is doing enough to prevent a data breach. Simple steps that you can take now to improve cybersecurity at your company include: 


Training Employees on Security Principles

Perhaps the most important step that any company can take to protect themselves from a cyberattack is to continually invest in employee training meant to educate staff on steps that they can take to prevent a data breach. The fact is that you should consider your employees to be your first line of defence against a data breach, as all it takes is one careless/unknowing staff member clicking the wrong link for your company to fall victim to a data breach. In fact, employee error is one of the most common causes of cyberattacks. It is then important that you train employees on what they can do to avoid causing a data breach, such as not opening suspicious links in emails. You should also establish basic security practices, such as requiring employees to use strong passwords that must be updated regularly, as well as requiring the use of two-factor authentication.       


Having Remote Employees Use a VPN

Virtual private networks are an extension of a private network that creates a secure means by which an individual can connect directly to a computer or secure server remotely, regardless of where they are located. With the pandemic seeing more companies shift to a remote or hybrid work model, it is important that you require all remote employees to log in using a VPN, as this ensures that the data they transmit is not being shared across the open internet. This is extremely vital in helping keep company data secure, as remote employees can pose a security risk if proper measures aren’t taken.


Backing Up Data Regularly

While the proper precautions will hopefully help you to avoid falling victim of a cyberattack, you should also be taking steps to minimize the damage to your company should a data breach occur. This includes making sure that you back up all data on all company computers regularly. Critical data that should be backed up includes spreadsheets, databases, financial files, human resource files, and accounts receivable/payable files. If possible, set it up so that these systems back up automatically at least once a week. Backup data should be stored in multiple locations, such as in the cloud as well as at a secure location offsite. 


Seeking Professional Help

Of course, if you are looking to improve your company’s cybersecurity during Privacy Awareness Week, one of the best things that you can do would be to bring in experts to advise you on what you should be doing to protect your company from a data breach. Feel free to contact us to learn more about the benefits of consulting experts to help you prevent a cyberattack, as well as to learn what you should do after one occurs. You can also arrange a free cyber threat assessment for you or your business.