Cyber security a rising concern for entrepreneurs in Canada

6 min read
Jen Roney

Entrepreneurs in Canada juggle many priorities when running their businesses, including sales, production, billing, taxes — and managing their websites and website security.

Why are these last two areas so important? First, it’s become crucial for small business owners to be online, and second, any obstacle to their ability to meet their customers’ expectations can cost them time, money, and opportunity.

GoDaddy periodically surveys its small business customers to see how they use technology in their businesses.

The most recent survey was conducted in June 2021 and asked respondents about digital security.

Here’s a look at what entrepreneurs in Canada think about website security and how their attitudes compare to small business owners in other countries.

Website security awareness among entrepreneurs in Canada

Security guard riding an escalator

GoDaddy’s survey asked SMB owners how they perceive digital threats to their businesses, how equipped they are to handle cyberattacks, and the potential impacts on their businesses should an attack be successful.

Of the Canadian small business owners surveyed:

  • 68% agree that small businesses like theirs are at risk from cyberattacks, but only 12% know how to deal with them
  • 46% handle personal information like passwords or banking details, meaning their business needs to implement higher standards of website security measures
  • 69% consider cybersecurity very important

Related: How hackers can tell if your website is a good target

What cybersecurity issues concern Canadian small business owners?

Canadian small business owners worry about website security. Their biggest perceived threats include phishing and malware — 80% or more Canadian business owners knew about these — and to a lesser degree:

  • Ransomware
  • Man-in-the-middle attacks
  • SQL injection
  • DDoS attacks

Small business owners know being online is essential to their businesses. The threat of a cyberattack raises genuine concern over:

  • Lost time spent handling the issue
  • Potential loss of customer trust

Canadian entrepreneurs also worry about their sites being down for some time, the exposure of customer data, the cost of fixing issues that arise, not knowing how to fix the problems, and potential financial loss.

However, Canadian customers have some catching up to do when researching and buying website protection and security solutions for their websites.

A significant number (42%) have not taken steps to research or purchase solutions to protect their sites. Some have explored options, but only 28% have bought a website protection solution, compared with 41% in the UK.

How equipped are Canadian entrepreneurs to deal with security threats?

Florist viewed through shop window
Photo: Ellicia on Unsplash

Here’s where the numbers get scary.

45% of Canadians said they wouldn’t know how to deal with a cyberattack on their website.

And while another 43% feel they know where to go for help if it happens, only 12% feel confident they would know how to handle it.

Canadian entrepreneurs lagging

Respondents in other countries seem more confident to handle security issues, with 23% of European business owners feeling they could address issues themselves.

Australia was closer to Canada, with just 15% of respondents feeling confident in responding appropriately. But a striking 34-45% across all countries surveyed wouldn’t know what to do if a cyberattack occurred.

In many cases, even the threats themselves are unfamiliar to Canadian GoDaddy customers.

For example, while 47% have heard of hackers and 41% are familiar with firewalls, a solid 30% have never heard of a DDoS attack.

In positive news, most GoDaddy customers have heard of the tools that guard against website security threats.

For instance, 64-67% of respondents in Canada are familiar with firewalls, site backups, malware scanning and SSL certificates as critical features for website security.

How many Canadian small businesses have dealt with website security issues?

Man in workshop using a laptop

Only 22% of Canadian entrepreneurs surveyed have experienced a security breach themselves. In the UK, this number is higher, with 34% having experienced it and 36% in Europe.

The most significant impact on customers across all countries surveyed who had experienced a breach was the downtime of their website. Still, other issues mentioned included financial loss, loss of reputation, and other concerns.

Thirty percent of European customers surveyed suffered losses of over £500 or €500.

53% of the Canadian customers who’d been hacked lost more than CDN0.

While downtime due to security threats usually only lasted a couple of hours, 49% of breaches experienced by Canadian respondents caused downtime of one to two days.

Thirty-four percent of breaches caused downtime ranging from three or four days to over a week, a significant loss of customer service, sales and access for most businesses.

Related: 5 e-commerce security tips from the pros at GoDaddy

How do entrepreneurs in Canada view their risk compared to those in other countries?

Approximately 40% of respondents across all countries believe that larger companies are more likely to be affected by cyberattacks.

Interestingly, while most GoDaddy customers surveyed agree that small businesses are also at risk of cyberattacks, the agreement rate was lowest in Canada.

Here, only 68% of respondents agreed that small businesses are at risk.

This number was lower than the 76% in Australia and the whopping 82% in Europe that felt their small businesses could be at risk.

How small business owners perceive risk and prepare to face cybersecurity issues are important areas for GoDaddy to understand to better support entrepreneurs in Canada.

Men loading glass windows onto a truck

With a broad range of website support options, GoDaddy helps small business owners keep their businesses working hard online and delivering uninterrupted service to their customers.

Who did GoDaddy survey for responses?

GoDaddy surveyed owners of both business and personal websites to gather this information. These entrepreneurs have businesses located in Canada, Europe, and Australia.

  • In Canada and Australia, three-quarters of respondents are professionals who build websites for others. Almost half the Australian customers solely run a business website.
  • There is a mix of informational and e-commerce websites owned by respondents. There are more informative websites in the UK and Canada (47% and 48%, respectively.) In Australia, there was a higher percentage of websites with e-commerce abilities (60%.)
  • More than half the respondents are small business owners or are involved in setting up a business. In other European markets, the share of website professionals is much higher.
  • Half of the respondents in all markets are solopreneurs, and another approximately 30% have just two to four employees on their teams.
  • Sixty-two percent of the business owners surveyed have had their business for five years or less. Only 21% have been in existence for 10 or more years.

Many survey respondents are tech beginners.

30% of respondents in Canada and Australia consider themselves to have a low level of technical website knowledge.

A higher percentage in Europe believes themselves to have a high degree of technical website knowledge, coming in at 27%. However, the majority (53-57% across all countries) consider themselves to have medium-level knowledge.

Survey respondents also varied widely in age. A significant number (56%) of our customers in Canada who responded to our survey are between 31 - 50 years old. Nineteen percent are between the ages of 18-30, and 25% are over 50.