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.
Cyberattacks increased globally by 38% from 2021 to 2022, according to data from Check Point Research. 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.
Our 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. And 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 warns, “when they should be improving security.”
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.” This up-skilling 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.
Combined, they have fundraised more than $100 million in capital. Alumni also hold nearly 40 granted patents across technology categories such as quantum computing, behavioural biometrics, and AI and machine learning algorithms.
And Google, in response to the pressing need for cybersecurity professionals, has 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.
The company’s cybersecurity experts design and teach the Cybersecurity Certificate, which will expand pathways to entry-level cybersecurity careers. Upon completion, learners will be prepared for the CompTIA Security+ exam, an industry-leading certification for cybersecurity roles, and earn a dual credential.
Google is also working with Canada Learning Code and ComIT to offer scholarships to their network and provide learners with facilitated workshops, course guidance, and professional coaching, ensuring that those with an interest in cybersecurity can put it into action.
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.
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. The INC Lab is a state-of-the-art facility for students in BCIT’s INC diploma program that merges cybersecurity and industrial network skills with game-based learning and real-world scenarios.
The organization has partnered with more than three dozen schools and worked with over 800 students.