New Mastercard research shows Canadian small business owners need additional support to effectively prevent, recover from cyber attacks

September 20, 2023 | Toronto
Mastercard uses its cybersecurity expertise to support Canadian small businesses lacking resources and tools to defend against increasing cybercrime.

Cybercrime in Canada has increased over 600 per cent since the start of the pandemic and small businesses are particularly vulnerable. Ahead of Cybersecurity Awareness Month 2023, Mastercard surveyed small business owners across Canada who said they struggle to invest in cybersecurity tools that would best protect them due to limited resources and lack the know-how to effectively recover once a cyber attack occurs.1  

In our connected world, the value of any business is increasingly tied to data. A cyber breach can cost small businesses money and a loss of trust.

Yet, just 16 per cent of Canadian small business owners surveyed feel certain they know the best steps to take following a cyber attack and only 18 per cent are totally confident that their business would recover fully from an attack in the next six months. The reality facing small businesses in today’s digital landscape is that cyber attacks are not a matter of if, but when—and what next?

“At Mastercard, we go beyond protecting the transaction, by integrating new thinking and approaches into the foundation of our innovative cybersecurity products and solutions to safeguard an evolving ecosystem,” said Aviva Klein, Vice President, Digital Payments and Cyber & Intelligence at Mastercard in Canada. “Given our global expertise in cyber and intelligence, Mastercard is committed to transferring knowledge to Canadian small businesses – the backbone of Canada’s economy - so they can scale cybersecurity capacity, protect their data, and maintain trust with customers—even after a cyber attack occurs.“

Expanding Cyber Preparedness and Securing Trust for a More Prosperous Future

Maintaining and rebuilding consumer trust is critical to small business recovery following a breach. According to Mastercard’s recent study, data protection measures (57%), accountability (53%) and transparency about past cyber incidents (52%) rate among the highest factors that influence Canadian consumers’ perceptions of small business security and trustworthiness. A robust and transparent cybersecurity plan is essential for small businesses to uphold their reputation and maintain long-term resilience, even as cyber threats increase and evolve. 

To help Canadian small businesses start securing their business, Mastercard and the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) have partnered to deliver the Cybersecurity Academy, with short lessons and free tools tailored to the needs of small businesses. Mastercard also offers a range of free tools and insights via its Small Business Cybersecurity Hub to help owners and entrepreneurs understand cyber risk, effectively defend against cyber threats and create effective, actionable plans for swift recovery.

In October, Mastercard and Digital Main Street are partnering to release a tailored video course to educate small and medium enterprises on cybersecurity by leveraging Mastercard’s cyber experts and Digital Main Street’s knowledge to protect against cyber risks.   

Empowering Diverse Small Business Owners with Cyber Skills

All small business owners face barriers to cybersecurity preparedness and recovery, but those challenges can be magnified for owners and entrepreneurs from diverse and underrepresented populations.

The Mastercard research found that women small business owners in Canada are less likely than their male counterparts to feel confident in the cybersecurity tools they’ve implemented (27% vs. 37%) and to feel confident that their businesses would fully recover following a cyberattack (46% vs. 53%). To expand Canadian women’s skills and leadership in cybersecurity, Mastercard proudly partners with the Rogers Cybersecure Catalyst at Toronto Metropolitan University to deliver the Mastercard Emerging Leaders Cyber Initiative (ELCI): a unique leadership program for women and non-binary leaders who seek to advance into executive-level positions in cybersecurity or related fields.

Although systemic barriers and cybersecurity capability gaps may be larger for diverse small business owners, Mastercard research also reveals that certain underrepresented groups are particularly inclined to explore new cybersecurity solutions. Take Indigenous small business owners, for example, who are significantly more willing than average (46% vs. 30%) to adopt innovative security measures such as biometrics, multi-factor authentication, or token identification—even if they come at an additional cost.  

Fostering this innovative spirit is exactly why Mastercard is proud to invest in Indigenous entrepreneurs in Canada via a three-year partnership with Pow Wow Pitch, providing crucial support for digital adoption and cybersecurity training as a part of its Indigenous Entrepreneur Bootcamp, as well as funding the Tech Stream of the Pow Wow Pitch program.

Investing in Canadians to Drive Global Cybersecurity, Strengthen Communities

Launched in 2020, Mastercard's Global Intelligence and Cyber Centre of Excellence (GICCoE) in Vancouver, BC, is leading innovation in cyber and intelligence (C&I), artificial intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT). Research from the GICCoE enhances Mastercard solutions, combining the biometric security algorithms with existing cyber capabilities to create new approaches and solutions for enhancing online security.

Since then, Mastercard has invested over $9 million in Canadian partnerships to support small business cybersecurity, grow Canada’s tech talent pipeline, and build a more secure, inclusive digital economy for everyone. This includes investing in early STEM and cyber education for girls and racialized students via Girls4Tech, Actua and Science World’s “Tech Up” program, as well as scholarships for traditionally underrepresented students in STEM fields at the University of Victoria, the British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT) and the University of British Columbia. Mastercard also partners with universities and technical institutes from coast to coast, including BCIT, the Nicola Valley Institute of Technology, and the University of New Brunswick advance cutting-edge cyber and internet of things (IoT) research.

To learn more about Mastercard’s cybersecurity initiatives in Canada and discover more cybersecurity research insights, click here

1 Mastercard online survey of 300 small business owners across Canada and 2,000 Canadians from the general population in Q2 of 2023.

Media Contacts

Helena Wade, Mastercard
+1 (613) 483-7853 |

About Mastercard (NYSE: MA)

Mastercard is a global technology company in the payments industry. Our mission is to connect and power an inclusive, digital economy that benefits everyone, everywhere by making transactions safe, simple, smart and accessible. Using secure data and networks, partnerships and passion, our innovations and solutions help individuals, financial institutions, governments and businesses realize their greatest potential. With connections across more than 210 countries and territories, we are building a sustainable world that unlocks priceless possibilities for all.