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Got Paid? Your Practice is a Cyber Target


​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​The threat of malicious users seeking to steal confidential data and disrupt IT systems is a growing risk for professional practices as cyber attacks globally increase in number and sophistication. In the past year, 55 per cent of organizations experienced a cyber attack, with nearly 90 per cent of those attacks targeting financial or competitive information.

For professionals, the possibility of a breach is high because the type of information you collect and hold – names and credit card numbers - is attractive to criminals. Protecting your own intellectual property, your clients’ personal identifiable information and their credit card information is a priority, one backed by the federal government.

Canada's new Digital Privacy Act has introduced a mandatory breach notification: starting this year, any organization that experiences the loss or theft of personal information putting people at "real risk of significant harm" will be required to notify the Office of the Privacy Commissioner as well as the individuals affected. Failing to do so could result in fines of up to $100,000 per offence.

While some businesses see cyber security as an extra expense, taking strong cyber security measures is critical in today’s environment – and could be an enabler for your business. If your clients know you’ve taken extra steps to protect their personal information, the added security could be another selling point.​

Awareness is the First Step
Although much has been reported on this threat, the biggest cyber danger organizations face still comes from successful phishing emails: clicking on an unsolicited email link or attachment containing malicious software that compromise your system.

Consider this: about 60 per cent of all malware is ransomware, which will either lock you out of your computer system or encrypt your files until the perpetrators’ demands for money are met. As well, any automated device connected to a network, such as a phone or security camera, could be vulnerable to criminals trying to gain access to your network.

Reduce your vulnerabilities with good planning, starting with understanding where your cyber security currently stands. Are your defensive controls low, medium or high? Do they limit your exposure to a potential cyber attack?

Conduct a cyber security health check of your computer system. This is key to providing your practice with a road map of where to apply your capital resources most effectively before starting on your cyber security plan.

Tips on Becoming More Cyber Secure

  • Put cyber security policies and procedures in place;
  • Patch all software and hardware as soon as security patches become available;
  • Make sure the system access controls are appropriate;
  • Back up files and test the back up. Have proper offline backups in place;
  • Conduct staff training to be aware of and avoid social traps like phishing emails;

Extra Coverage
Finally, even when taking every precaution, no defense is 100 per cent secure. In the event of a breach, is there someone you could contact for help? Do you have legal help you can call on? Does your practice carry insurance? If so, will that protection be sufficient for your needs?

Keeping up with industry trends enables you to be proactive in your business decisions instead of reactive. MNP can provide your practice with a network health check and help you create a cyber security defense you can count on.

To learn more about how MNP can help, contact Danny Timmins, National Cyber Security Leader, at 905.607.9777 or [email protected] or contact your local MNP Business Advisor.

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