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Cybersecurity matters: Protecting your business from online fraud

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AWMAC by Michelle Morrell
Michelle Morrell is the National Executive Director of the Architectural Woodwork Manufacturers Association of Canada. She can be reached at: michelle_morrell@awmac.com
March kicks off Fraud Prevention Month, which is a good time for both businesses and consumers for a refresher on the dangers posed by the myriad of online scams targeting Canadians, which have ramped up due to COVID-19.
With warmer spring days ahead, many in the woodworking industry in Canada are ready to jump right back to work full steam ahead.
However, with the slow easing of COVID restrictions, now may be a good time to take a closer look at cybersecurity and the potential threats online fraud poses to your business.



COVID related online scams have become prevalent. According to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, from March 6, 2020, to Feb. 28, 2021, there were a total of 13,553 Canadian reports of COVID-19 fraud.
These included 11,789 victims, with a total of $7.2 million lost to COVID fraud.
Indeed, according to the Canadian Centre for Cyber Security’s National Cyber Threat Assessment 2020, “cybercrime remains the most common threat faced by Canadian organizations of all sizes.”
The Canadian Centre for Cyber Security is the official government agency tasked with tackling cybersecurity issues in Canada. Since March of 2020, they have removed around 5,500 fraudulent websites and e-mail addresses, some of which are ones posing as official government entities.
There are ways to fight back and mitigate as best as possible cyber threats which threaten all businesses in Canada.
A recent newsletter from Rogers Insurance gives great tips on how as a business owner, you can take steps to protect your operation from the ever-growing threat of cyber attacks.
Having a good usage policy is key for all employees, stakeholders, and board members, which clearly outlines acceptable uses of the internet, company devices and emails.
An important part of a good usage policy is ensuring that a strong password policy is in place. Also important is safeguarding that as few people as possible have administrative access and rights for company sites, social media platforms, and any other online portals.  
Confirming that the device security of any company phone or computer is strong is crucial as well. With many people working from home, it might be a good thing to consider investing in a VPN, or Virtual Private Network, which can help keep data safe.
One common cyber-attack involves ransomware attacks, which threaten to expose the private information of a company or individual unless a fee is paid. It is critical that you have at least one full backup of all company data and information on a physical device if possible.
As part of this, ensuring your software is up to date is vital as well, as older versions of programs are more prone to online hacking.
Last year alone, the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre says they received well over 101,000 fraud reports, representing a total of $160 million in reported losses. This is a staggering amount, which broken down shows that of the total dollar amount, $12 million came from extortion scams, $14.4 million were from email scams, $18.5 million from romance scams, and $16.5 million from investment scams.
Due to the ever-increasing risk of online fraud, it is essential for your company to have a solid plan of action in place regarding cybersecurity.
The Canadian Centre for Cyber Security has great information available regarding online fraud and cybersecurity.
Despite the woodworking industry in Canada being very resilient, it is important to take the time to take a closer look at the real threats and dangers posed by online fraud.   
Please take the time to 
visit AWMAC’s website at www.awmac.com and give us a like and follow on our social media channels.
There are many resources available on our site which can help you navigate successfully through the difficult times of COVID-19, and the better days ahead.

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