SMEs: Strengthen your information security

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Cybersecurity Month: VARS urges SMEs to strengthen their information security

“Investing in information security is no longer optional. It has become essential for keeping businesses competitive and ensuring their long-term viability.”

– Guillaume Caron, President and CEO

Montreal, October 27, 2020 – VARS, a division of Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton, is capitalizing on Cybersecurity Awareness Month to urge businesses to step up their security with sophisticated solutions that are tailored to their needs.

According to VMware, 99% of Canadian companies have reported an increase in cyber attacks over the past 12 months and the trend is unlikely to subside, especially now that businesses have shifted their activities online1. Businesses need to update their strategies to ensure protection of their data and systems.

“Cybersecurity isn’t optional. It’s a necessary investment that all businesses, particularly small and medium-sized enterprises, should make urgently2,” said Guillaume Caron, President and CEO at VARS.

Reducing risk

The pandemic has catapulted telework to the fore and work-from-home arrangements are here to stay. The use of personal devices and unsecured computers, even for temporary periods, can leave the door wide open for hackers. With the sharp rise in phishing scams and ransomware attacks, growing volumes of accesses to manage, and employees increasingly exchanging sensitive information electronically without proper security controls in place, risks are running high for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

Consumer confidence hinges on security

Strong business relationships have always been based on trust and information security has become an important part of the equation. Organizations that uphold industry best practices and align with international information security standards—such as those set out by ISO, the National Institute of Standards and Technology and the Center for Internet Security—have a competitive advantage over businesses that don’t. Moreover, major corporations and government agencies are continually raising the bar for their third-party suppliers, most often small and mid-size businesses, forcing them to meet increasingly stringent security requirements in order to protect their own information security systems.

VARS innovations: Monitoring and detection at all levels and vCISOs

Traditional security solutions like anti-virus and firewalls are important but they aren’t enough to protect organizations against new and evolving threats. SMEs needs to be proactive and have full-time visibility of their networks and systems, including their emails, in order to detect threats. According to a recent IBM report, companies take an average of 207 days to identify data breaches3. This gives hackers plenty of time to plan and execute malicious activities, such as ransomware attacks. VARS offers advanced security solutions, including tools that can detect abnormal and malicious activities across an organization’s systems, data and network.

Hackers scour the dark web to find information such as login credentials and other data on organizations, employees and third parties. Many organizations are unaware that some of their information has been compromised and can be found on the dark web.

“In 2020, VARS dark web scans showed that an average of up to 30% of SME credentials are compromised or available for purchase on the web,” explained Guillaume Caron.

The VARS Virtual CISO Office gives organizations the power to leverage the expertise of a chief information security officer (CISO) without having to search for one or pay for a full-time resource, which can be particularly challenging given today’s skilled labour shortage. Having a full-time CISO could cost SMEs over $250,000 per year.

“VARS can assign a CISO to SMEs, which often don’t need a full-time expert on staff, giving them immediate availability at a fraction of the cost. We can help organizations with specific projects or work with them to develop and manage a complete information security program. In today’s world, any company that wants to remain innovative and competitive needs to embrace the digital shift by embedding security into business processes,” concluded Guillaume Caron.

1 According to the August 2020 VMWare survey.
2 According to a Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA) survey released in October 2020, “Only 43% anticipate more financial resources devoted to cybersecurity in the next 12 months, down from 54% that expected an increase last year.”
3 2020 IBM report about the cost of data breaches, covered in Digitalguardian.

About Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton

Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton is a professional services firm dedicated to the success of organizations and their leaders since 1948. The firm’s advisors are committed to helping clients thrive by obtaining a deep understanding of what is important to them, their business and their industry. This knowledge, combined with a team of motivated and talented professionals help accelerate growth. A Quebec and Canadian leader in the areas of assurance, tax, advisory services and business recovery and reorganization, Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton boasts more than 2,800 professionals, including approximately 200 partners, working in over 100 offices across the province of Quebec and in the Ottawa and Edmundston regions.

Together with Grant Thornton LLP, another Canadian firm, and the Grant Thornton global organization, our global footprint spans across more than 140 countries with over 56,000 people who provide real insight, a fresh perspective and agility to keep clients moving ahead.

Information:

Francis Letendre
Head – Public Affairs
Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton
Tel: 514-390-4201
Email: letendre.francis@rcgt.com

In addition, if you have been victim of a security incident, we invite you to immediately call the VARS emergency service at 1 888 607-8277 (VARS). We can help you now.

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