Nearly half of small businesses have experienced random cyberattacks in the past year

CFIB launches a new education program to help business owners improve their cybersecurity

Toronto, December 8, 2022 – Nearly half of small businesses (45%) have experienced a random cyberattack in the past year, and 27% experienced a targeted attack, finds a new survey by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB). To help businesses protect themselves, CFIB is launching its Cybersecurity Academy, an online education program to train business owners and their employees on how to improve cybersecurity in their business. The training, developed in partnership with Mastercard and their cybersecurity specialists, includes topics such as preventing ransomware and cyberattacks, recognizing fraud, and identifying and preventing social engineering.

“Cyberattacks are a growing threat to small businesses but enhancing cybersecurity can be intimidating and accessing cybersecurity support can be costly for small businesses,” said Mandy D’Autremont, Vice-President of Marketing Partnerships at CFIB. “This is why CFIB is launching the CFIB Cybersecurity Academy to make learning about this topic more approachable and give business owners practical tools and information to enhance their cybersecurity. We are very excited about this project and the value it will give to business owners and their employees.”

The survey also found that:

  • 11% of businesses had experienced a whaling attempt in the past year (a phishing attack targeting or impersonating a CEO or business leader)
  • Businesses in the professional services (57% random, 28% targeted) and wholesale (58% random, 38% targeted) sectors were most likely to report experiencing cyberattacks in the past year
  • Only 11% of businesses had offered mandatory cybersecurity training to their employees in the past year, and 8% had provided optional training

Businesses can learn to better protect themselves with CFIB’s Cybersecurity Academy

CFIB’s Cybersecurity Academy will be delivered on a gamified platform in a user-friendly format allowing small business owners and their employees to earn badges and enter into draws for $15,500 in cash. These online lessons will be free to CFIB members. Given the importance of this education, for a limited time and with the support of Mastercard, CFIB is also opening up access to non-members with a free temporary membership to complete the Cybersecurity Academy courses. 

“In the digital era, it’s crucial to know how to protect your business and avoid losing valuable assets and time,” D’Autremont continued. “It is paramount that we do everything we can to get small business owners access to cybersecurity training for themselves and their employees. Combining specialized courses, engaging technology, incentives and expanded access will ultimately help protect our members, the broader business community and Canada’s economy.”

“Recent years have highlighted the importance of digitization in all areas - from shopping, to accessing services, to healthcare – and a truly digital economy that works for everyone is critical,” said Aviva Klein, Vice President, Digital Payments and Cyber & Intelligence at Mastercard in Canada. “It’s more important than ever that small businesses are able to protect themselves online and, together with CFIB, Mastercard is helping to ensure they are empowered and informed to help their businesses thrive.”

To learn more and access CFIB’s Cybersecurity Academy, visit

For media enquiries or interviews, please contact:
Dariya Baiguzhiyeva, CFIB

Emilija Businskas, Vice President, Communications, Mastercard 

Final results for the Your Voice – October 2022 survey. The online survey was conducted from Oct. 6-31, 2022, number of respondents= 4,639. For comparison purposes, a probability sample with the same number of respondents would have a margin of error of at most +/-1.4 %, 19 times out of 20.

About CFIB
The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) is Canada’s largest association of small and medium-sized businesses with 95,000 members across every industry and region. CFIB is dedicated to increasing business owners’ chances of success by driving policy change at all levels of government, providing expert advice and tools, and negotiating exclusive savings. Learn more at

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. Our decency quotient, or DQ, drives our culture and everything we do inside and outside of our company. With connections across more than 210 countries and territories, we are building a sustainable world that unlocks priceless possibilities for all.