1 in 4 Internet Users Don’t Know How to Respond to a Ransomware Attack

The 2017 Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI)-Ipsos Global Study on Internet Security and Trust, which surveyed 24,255 users across multiple countries, recently found that 1 in 4 internet users would have no idea how to respond to a ransomware attack. In addition, the study found that just 16 per cent of users would know how to retrieve data from a backup while another 13 per cent wouldn’t even attempt to recover data if vital information was compromised.

This survey comes on the heels of the recent WannaCry ransomware attacks, which impacted over 200,000 users in at least 150 countries. Initial reports indicated that the WannaCry attack used ransomware to hijack computer systems and demand money in the form of bitcoin, a type of digital payment system.

The ransomware initially requested around $300 and, if no payment was made, it threatened to double the amount after three days and delete files within seven days. This type of cyber attack is common and can impact businesses of any size, so it’s important to know what steps to take in order to protect your business.

The WannaCry attacks illustrate the importance of ensuring that any and all software patches are up to date. For further protection, consider training every employee on cyber security, and instruct them to never click on suspicious emails or attachments.

Other ransomware precautions include the following:

  • Update your network if you haven’t yet and implement the appropriate software patches.
  • Turn on auto-updaters, if available.
  • Don’t click on links that you don’t recognize.
  • Don’t download files from people you don’t know.
  • Back up your documents regularly.

Following this attack, organizations are likely to be more proactive in adjusting security measures so malware can’t spread automatically. Taking these precautions into mind, your organization can avoid potentially costly ransomware attacks. As an added benefit, a higher focus on in-network security measures can make your organization more attractive to potential customers and other third parties.

© Zywave, Inc. All rights reserved

Is Your Organization Ready for Mandatory Data Breach Notifications?


On June 18, 2015, the Digital Privacy Act (DPA) received royal assent and became law. Among other things, the DPA amended the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA) by revising consent requirements, introducing mandatory breach notification and record-keeping requirements, and adding significant fines for non-compliance.

While many of the measures introduced by the DPA have been in force since the bill was first enacted, the government held off on imposing mandatory breach reporting until the proper regulations were implemented.

Such regulations could be in place as early as fall 2017, and organizations will want to ensure that they know what is expected of them in order to remain compliant and avoid costly fines as high as $100,000.

Mandatory Data Breach Notifications

The DPA imposes reporting requirements for every organization in Canada that suffers a data breach, particularly if that data breach creates a real risk of significant harm to the personal information of one or more individuals. While the full extent of the reporting requirements will not be known until the corresponding regulations are published, the DPA defines significant harm broadly to include the following:

  • Bodily harm
  • Humiliation
  • Damage to reputations or relationships
  • Loss of employment, business or professional opportunities
  • Financial loss
  • Identity theft
  • Negative effects on credit records
  • Damage to or loss of property

Most often, the existence of “a real risk of significant harm” will be based on the sensitivity of the personal information involved in the breach, the probability that the personal information will be misused and additional factors that may be prescribed by the forthcoming regulations.

If a breach causing significant harm to one or more individuals occurs, the affected organization must do the following, as soon as feasible:

  • Report the incident to the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada (Privacy Commissioner).
  • Notify affected individuals of the breach and provide them with information on how they may minimize the harm caused by the breach.
  • Inform other organizations and government entities of the breach, especially if they believe that doing so could reduce risks or mitigate harm.

Notices must contain enough information to help affected individuals fully understand the extent of harm caused by the breach. Additionally, notices must be conspicuous and provided directly to affected individuals. However, in limited circumstances, indirect notices may be permitted. Once again, more detail will be available to organizations once the forthcoming regulations are published.

Record-keeping Requirements

Another key change under the DPA will be the requirement that organizations keep records of all security breaches involving personal information. While it is still unclear the level of detail these records will need to contain, it is clear that the Privacy Commissioner will have the right to request and review these records at any time.

Penalties for Non-compliance

Under the DPA, fines up to $100,000 may be imposed against organizations that knowingly violate the mandatory breach notification requirements or breach record-keeping requirements. Until the regulations are finalized, it will remain unclear if a violation will include a single incident (for example, a single failure to notify all individuals impacted by a breach) or each incident (for example, each failure to notify each individual impacted by a breach). However, it is clear that the Privacy Commissioner now has the ability to impose significant fines for non-compliance.

What Does this Mean for Organizations?

Mandatory data breach notifications could impact any organization that is at risk of a cyber attack. Given the reach of the DPA and upcoming regulations, all organizations should consider doing the following:

  • Review and update existing protocols and policies to account for detecting, responding and reporting data breach incidents internally.
  • Assess the types of information—personal information, intellectual property, supplier data, etc.—they hold and how they would respond in the event of a breach.
  • Create a data breach incident response plan if one does not already exist. Such a plan should include methods for notifying the Privacy Commissioner and any impacted individuals.
  • Ensure that they have sufficient insurance in place and have taken the steps to mitigate any litigation exposures. Such steps often include requiring employee training, performing security audits and identifying cyber security vendors.

Organizations should review the DPA to ensure they are compliant with all aspects of the legislation.

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