How to respond to a cyber attack

Do you know what to do if your business experiences a cyber attack?

Cyber attacks are more common than you think. And if your business doesn't have the proper measures in place, a cyber attack can lead to a cyber incident, which can jeopardize the confidentiality, integrity or availability of your digital information or systems. According to a 2021 survey by the Canadian Centre for Cyber Security, almost two thirds of Canadian businesses have experienced a cyber incident. And with more and more businesses expanding online, that number will increase.

In previous blog posts, we went over the basics of cybersecurity and some common cyber attacks to watch out for. But what should you do if your business experiences a cyber attack, and how should you report it?

Plan ahead

Did you know?

In 2021, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business reported that nearly 25% of businesses had experienced cyberattacks since March 2020, with 5% overall saying the attack against them was successful.

The best way to prepare for a cyber attack is to have a plan ready before you need it. This is often called an incident response plan. By having a clear plan that outlines what steps to take and who is responsible for each step, you'll minimize the chance of a costly mistake and avoid wasting precious time.

For a detailed guide on how to create an incident response plan, check out our free online eLearning module, Develop an Incident Response Plan.


So you've experienced a cyber attack. Now what?

Although almost two thirds of businesses have experienced a cyber incident, only a quarter reported the incident. The Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA) outlines the legal obligations for organizations that experience a security breach involving personal information. In such cases, you are required to do the following:

  1. Report any breach involving personal information to the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada if the breach creates a risk of significant harm to an individual.
  2. Notify individuals if their personal information has been lost or stolen and there is a risk they could be significantly harmed.
  3. Keep and maintain a record of these security breaches.

You can also report the cyber incident to the Canadian Centre for Cyber Security. By reporting a cyber incident, you help protect other businesses and Canadians from future attacks.

Preventing a cyber attack

The best way to avoid a cyber incident is to prevent it in the first place. CyberSecure Canada offers a free, self-paced online eLearning course that will walk you through how to establish security controls to protect your business. Once you implement these security controls, you will have the option to apply for CyberSecure certification.

Why get certified?

Once your organization puts into place all of the required security controls, you can apply for certification. Getting CyberSecure certified has many benefits, including:

  • limiting the impacts of a cyber incident
  • enhancing your competitive advantage and attracting new business
  • reassuring your customers and investors that their information is protected
  • improving your cybersecurity knowledge

Learn how to get certified by visiting the CyberSecure certification webpage.

You may be eligible to receive funding to help offset the costs of implementing cybersecurity controls and getting certified. Visit the Canada Digital Adoption Program webpage to learn more.