Earlier this month, retailer Indigo Books & Music took a major digital blow: the Canadian retail giant’s e-commerce website was abruptly shut down due to a “cybersecurity incident.”
Thankfully, the company informed customers that credit and debit card information was not compromised. However, the website remained down for an entire week—an eternity in Internet time—and experts believe the issue has already cost Indigo “millions of dollars,” according to a report from The Toronto Star.
“There will be damage,” warned retail analyst Bruce Winder to the Star, who estimates the bill could reach tens of millions of dollars.
It’s 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.
Cyber attacks “have increased in many industry sectors, both in Canada and internationally,” Michelle Wasylyshen, spokesperson for Retail Council of Canada, informed the Star.
Vulnerability to such blows, which can prove damaging both to balance sheets and reputations, is not being sufficiently address in Canada. Why? Because the country is severely lacking in cybersecurity professionals, confirms data from the Information and Communications Technology Council.
While well over 100,000 cyber professionals are currently employed across Canada, it is estimated that at least 25,000 more are needed now, national surveys suggest. From 2019 to 2021, the labour market grew from 84,000 to 123,000, but the gap in supply and demand did not close.
Despite this dearth of security talent, experts believe that every company should have in-house cybersecurity resources.
According to Wasylyshen, addressing this issue should be “a top priority for everyone.”
Concerns around cyber staffing shortages were already present pre-Pandemic and have only since amplified, the ICTC says. In fact, demand is so high that “some international reports on the cybersecurity labour gap tout global unemployment rates as low as 0%.”
There are, at least, some things being done in 2023 to promote cybersecurity as a career in Canada.
Canada’s Next Cybersecurity Professional
The ICTC report suggests that an alternative to traditional education is “emerging education pathways” such as coding bootcamps and Massive Open Online Courses. This can lower barriers to entering the field of tech.
“Coding bootcamps and MOOCs have been highly disruptive and successful in areas such as software development,” notes the report, admitting however that “uptake in the cybersecurity field has been comparatively low.”
Still, there are multiple pathways into cybersecurity roles—whether directly from a relevant college or university program or as part of a mid-career transition through up-skilling.
In addition, the British Columbia Institute of Technology and Cisco Canada partnered on the Industrial Network Cybersecurity Lab to address 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.