#CyberFLASH: On privacy and cyber-security, plan today or fail tomorrow

Local Input~ FOR NATIONAL POST USE ONLY - NO POSTMEDIA - Hacker using laptop. Lots of digits on the computer screen. Credit fotolia.The story has become all too common for businesses today: privacy breaches create anxiety for consumers, customers, employees and investors, and shatter corporate reputations. Some of the largest companies in the world have suffered data breaches: eBay, Home Depot, British Airways, Sony, Goldcorp and others. But the attacks have also struck small- and medium-sized enterprises, governments and professional associations, with devastating consequences.

A recent survey from The Global State of Information Security noted a 38-per-cent increase in cyber-security incidents detected by firms in 2015 over 2014. Best estimates are that cybercrime cost the global economy $445 billion in 2014. The value is expected to rise, even as firms move to protect themselves and their customers. The reason is simple: it is a target-rich environment for those with the criminal intent and the capacity to exploit inadequate cyber-security.

Today, Canadians are more technologically engaged and literate than ever before, and they are paying attention: 89 per cent of Canadians will avoid companies that do not protect their privacy and 74 per cent have limited their online activity due to privacy concerns. Perhaps the most compelling evidence of how seriously the public takes the issue is the fact that 64 per cent think that online privacy is a human right. The lesson for businesses of all sizes and aspirations is clear: when two-thirds of your customers think that the handling of their credit card numbers, health information, financial information, personal identity and contact information is a human rights obligation, businesses must pay attention and have a plan.

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