Earlier this year, retailer Indigo Books & Music took a major digital blow: the iconic Canadian giant’s e-commerce website was abruptly shut down due to a “cybersecurity incident.”
It was hardly the only recent cyber security issue in Canada. Last year saw organizations including LCBO and SickKids Hospital face digital assaults such as data breaches and ransomware attacks.
Indeed, cyberattacks increased globally by 38% from 2021 to 2022, according to data from Check Point Research. And it’s not just the frequency of attacks that is increasing, according to a recent KPMG survey of chief executive officers.
Cyber attacks are “increasing in frequency, sophistication, and maliciousness,” the report from KPMG found.
“Cyber-security remains an ever-present threat,” the firm’s outlook warns.
Canada’s system shows the strain. According to recent data from IBM, the average data breach costs a company $7 million—more than most countries in the world.
Moreover, companies are passing these costs on to consumers. IBM found a majority of firms increase the price of their products or services to financially recover from a cyber attack while only half boost their security budgets in response to a hit.
“Most companies are passing the cost on to consumers,” the report observed, “when they should be improving security.”
The need for cybersecurity professionals has never been greater, but Canada sees one in six cybersecurity jobs sit empty.
From 2019 to 2021, the labour market grew from 84,000 to 123,000, but the gap in supply and demand did not close.
Canada’s digital economy is in need of a robust cyber workforce, with 25,000 cybersecurity jobs currently unfilled in the country.
IBM’s 2023 “Cost of a Data Breach Report” suggests that training employees to have cyber-security skills can “significantly reduce the total cost of a breach.”
The upskilling approach is becoming increasingly common across Canada to address shortfalls in-house. This method and others are being adopted in various ways throughout the country to tackle the nation’s cybersecurity concerns.
The Catalyst Cyber Accelerator at Toronto Metropolitan University, for example, is the foremost cybersecurity-focused business accelerator in Canada. According to the Catalyst Cyber Accelerator Report, a publication tracking the growth of 39 Canadian cybersecurity startups and scale-ups, Catalyst-accelerated startups have created more than 300 new jobs, growing their workforces by an average of 72% after graduating.
And Google, in response to the pressing need for cybersecurity professionals, launched the Google Cybersecurity Certificate as the newest addition to its Google Career Certificates program. The certificate is designed to prepare learners for entry-level careers in cybersecurity within six months, with no prior experience required.
Over 19,000 people have graduated from the Google Career Certificate program in Canada, with 76% of Canadian graduates reporting a positive career impact, such as a new job, higher pay, or promotion within six months of completion.
In addition, The British Columbia Institute of Technology and Cisco Canada partnered in 2022 on the Industrial Network Cybersecurity Lab to address the global demand for cybersecurity talent.
Cybersecurity offers a stable career trajectory, with some of the lowest unemployment rates of any field. According to the Information and Communications Technology Council, demand is so high that “some international reports on the cybersecurity labour gap tout global unemployment rates as low as 0%.”
Emerging technologies such as generative artificial intelligence will only push the already fervent need for cybersecurity talent in Canada, KPMG data suggests.
Well over 90% of Canadian CEOs are worried that Gen AI might enable additional cyber attacks, a figure notably above the global average of 82%.
And of those executives who believe AI poses a cyber threat, only half feel prepared to handle potential attacks.