Canadian small business lobby group members will receive free online cybersecurity training in the coming months, including lessons on preventing phishing and ransomware attacks.


The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB), which claims to have 95,000 members in Canada, says it will soon launch a Cybersecurity Academy to help company owners and employees become more aware of security.

The training modules will be based on cybersecurity education resources from Mastercard's Trust Centre and offered on the Horizn gamification platform. The platform will allow users to earn points towards incentives such as badges and even cash, said Mandy D'Autremont, the CFIB's senior director of marketing partnerships.


As part of the academy's announcement, the CFIB released a survey that found that 72 percent of small business owners are more concerned than ever about cyberattacks. One in four respondents (24 percent) saw an increase in cyberattacks against their business in the past year.


In the last year, eight percent of respondents reported being the victim of a cyberattack that cost them time or money. They lost an average of $26,000, including lost time.


Small firms can be severely impacted by these attacks, the federation said in a news release, with some losing up to C$500,000, and others reporting long-term impacts on their reputations and operations.


The CFIB Cybersecurity Academy adds another free resource for small and medium businesses. Others include content from the federal government's Canadian Centre for Cyber Security and the Simply Secure program offered by Ryerson University's Rogers Cybersecure Catalyst.

D'Autremont said the academy's goal is to teach small business owners and employees to protect their businesses better. 'Cyberattacks can be scary for a business,' she said.


The academy will initially offer six modules through Horizon:

  • How to stop phishing and ransomware.
  • How to identify social media attacks.
  • How to recognize fraud.
  • How to handle online chargebacks.
  • How to create a credit card code of conduct.