October 12, 2022

Cyber Security Starts with Common Sense

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Here at Équité Association, our Fraud Analytics Solutions & Technology (FAST) team has been working hard to develop and implement our analytics platform, the first of its kind in Canada. As we inch closer to this milestone achievement, I have been thinking about the increasing importance of data integrity and the role of cyber security both for our organization and for our members.  

As technologies continue to evolve and we embrace them for their tremendous benefits, we also open ourselves up to risks and threats. According to the Federal Government, on a per capita basis, Canadians spend the most time online of any country inthe world, at 43.5 hours per Canadian per month[1]. Digital technologies are now an integral part of our daily lives. However, every time we connect to the Internet – at home, at school, at work, or on our mobile devices – we make decisions that affect our cybersecurity.

October is Cyber Security Awareness Month. Held internationally each year, this campaign helps people stay secure online by teaching them simple steps to protect themselves and their devices from cybercrime. What is cyber crime? As the name implies, cyber or computer crime, involves the use of a computer as an instrument to further illegal ends, such as committing fraud.

To be clear, cyber crime is fraud. It is deceptive and elusive and cyber criminals often misrepresent themselves or certain details in order to obtain a specific, often financial, benefit. Criminals and other bad actors – many of which operate outside our borders – try to take advantage of our data security gaps, low cyber security awareness, and technological developments in an effort to compromise cyber systems. They steal personal and financial information, intellectual property, and trade secrets. They can also disrupt and sometimes destroy the infrastructure that we rely upon for essential services and our way of life.

Much like insurance fraud, protection against cyber crime requires vigilance, awareness, and education. It may seem like workplace cybersecurity is the responsibility of our respective IT departments, but we all have a role to play in protecting electronic information on workplace websites, networks, or devices from hackers.

Becoming cyber smart starts with common sense. As an individual or consumer, you can take basic steps to protect your online information and privacy; as a colleague and employee, you can learn how your organization plays a part in ensuring cybersecurity for the larger ecosystem. 

Our partners at the National Insurance Crime Bureau have put together a list of helpful tips for all digital users this Cyber Security month. The tips are simple and easy to implement. Use these to avoid becoming a victim and to stay vigilant this October and beyond:

  • Shred or tear up personal financial documents before discarding them. 
  • Minimize the number of cards and identifying information you carry, especially your social insurance number and passport. 
  • Only reveal information online when the website is securely protected (look for a yellow padlock symbol in the corner of your computer screen). 
  • Do not provide personal, financial or any other identifying information to a telephone caller.  
  • Be sure to ask why they are calling, what the information will be used for, then get their name, and telephone number to check and see that the caller is legitimate. 
  • Carefully review all monthly credit card statements and check for unauthorized use.  
  • Pay attention to your credit card billing cycles, as identity thieves may reroute bills to another address to hide criminal activities involving your accounts. 
  • Get a copy of your credit report at least once a year to check for possible errors. 

Over the course of Cyber Security Month, Équité Association will be sharing tips like these and more to help keep our members, partners, and all Canadians stay safe.

[1] https://www.publicsafety.gc.ca/cnt/rsrcs/pblctns/ntnl-cbr-scrt-strtg/index-en.aspx