Online Security Breaches Rise in Canada

by Jordan Richardson on November 10, 2010

According to a study released by the Rotman School of Management and Telus, the number of online security breaches in Canadian government and industry has increased by 29%.

The study reports that government agencies across the nation saw the average number of annual online security breaches increase from 13.4 in 2009 to 22.4 in 2010. That’s a 74% hike in government breaches, more than double the number of private sector breaches.

There’s reason to suspect that this may be good news, however. According to the report, the increase in government breaches may not be an increase in security problems but rather an increase in the detection of those problems. With better security and detection resources, government agencies are actually snagging the scent of security breaches that they may have missed in the past.

The cost of dealing with the breaches has dropped, too, thanks to the more efficient security apparatus employed by government and private agencies. The survey reveals that the overall cost of of security breaches decreased by a whopping 78% over the past year.

Numbers of so-called “nuisance attacks,” such as denial of service attacks, have also decreased. The majority of attacks on Canadian governments and industry resources these days appear to centre around making money or stealing company/government secrets and personal identities.

The study also revealed that one in four Canadian organizations block access to social networking sites. Interestingly, organizations that were among those to block social networking sites experienced no drop in security issues. Some analysts suggest that such a block on social networking sites could actually raise security risks for a company as employees attempt to circumvent the blocking apparatus.

“We see a need to maintain control in an ever-changing threat environment, where attacks are designed to penetrate security using the latest technologies and processes,” said Dr. Walid Hejazi, Professor of Business Economics, Rotman School of Management. “However, our research indicates that the adoption of social networking in the workplace is simply not a contributing factor to breach increases. The best course of action is to instil a sense of trust and educate employees on how to engage in social networking appropriately.”

Of course, the same rule generally applies here: the more industry and government smarten up with respect to security, the more advanced the threats generally become. Complacency in the area of security is simply not an option.

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