By: Sarah Douglas, Vice President of Global Marketing and Communications, SecureKey

Each year in October, we’re reminded of the importance of cybersecurity across the globe. While hacks, breaches and fraud have become part of our everyday vocabulary when we think about digital identity, Cyber Security Awareness Month (CSAM) is an opportunity to pause and think about the impact that unsecure digital identity has had individually, and on our economy.

For the first time, last year we were introduced to the concept of “mega breaches” – or breaches of more than one million records. Representing the severity of growing hacks, this was a new and alarming trend that we were required to face as Canadians. Yet, in just a year, mega breaches have become our new normal. In 2018 alone, there were five billion records exposed, as a result of 6,515 publicly reported data breaches[1].  On a global level, these data breaches are resulting in consumers losing more than US$16 billion each year.[2]

Unfortunately, these numbers aren’t surprising. We’re living in a digital world, where online communication and digital transactions have surpassed the physical. According to Public Safety Canada’s National Cyber Security Strategy[3], on a per capita basis, Canadians spend the most time online of any country in the world, at 43.5 hours per Canadian per month. Compare this to other hobbies in your life – are you spending 43.5 hours each month outside? Spending time with friends or family? Reading? The number is staggering.

Who is responsible for safeguarding information?

While usage is increasing, protection of personal information is trending in the opposite way. In 2018, six in 10 (59%) Canadians double checked credit card statements, versus 65 per cent two years ago[4]. Yet this doesn’t change Canadians’ concerns. According to the Chartered Professional Accounts of Canada (CPA), 70 per cent of Canadians are more concerned about fraud today than they were five years ago.[5]

With so much data available online – and minimal effort by Canadians to protect their data – there is an increasing onus on organizations to safeguard the information of their consumers. To date, consumers have expressed concern over organizations’ ability to do this; according to the CPA, just over one third of Canadians (39%) think the businesses they deal with are doing enough to protect their personal information – despite six in 10 (60%) expressing concern that these businesses are vulnerable to cyberattacks.

At SecureKey, we recognize that safeguarding information online is a demanding task, and that digital identity is not a problem that can be solved by one organization alone. With this in mind, Verified.Me, a service offered by SecureKey Technologies Inc., was launched. The Verified.Me service was developed in cooperation with seven of Canada’s major financial institutions to offer a more secure and convenient way to help Canadians verify their identities with trusted service providers. We’re confident that our service marks the first step in making the dream of safe online identity a reality, while at the same time ensuring that we begin to reverse the trend back to a time where mega breaches were unheard of.

For more information on how to be more secure online, visit the federal government’s Get Cyber Safe website for cyber security resources, tips and tools on how to protect yourself and your business, how cyber threats work and affect you and how together, we can work to solve this problem. To take the first step in taking control of your identity, visit www.verified.me.

[1] VulnDB – Risk Based Security; 2018 Data Breach QuickView

[2] https://www.researchandmarkets.com/research/sx3dvl/global_identity?w=5

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

[4] https://investor.equifax.com/news-and-events/news/2019/03-12-2019

[5] https://www.cpacanada.ca/en/the-cpa-profession/about-cpa-canada/media-centre/2019/february/canadians-express-strong-concerns-about-fraud-cpa-canada-survey