Guillaume Caron
Chief Executive Officer VARS - Cybersecurity | Digital and technology consulting

With the advent of COVID-19, phishing, ransomwares and social engineering attacks are on the rise.

Over the past few weeks, we have observed malicious activities and in the coming months, we will see a significant increase in the number of phishing campaigns, ransomware attacks and social engineering (malicious links, fake news, etc.) linked to the COVID-19 crisis. Indeed, malicious actors are already taking advantage of the vulnerability of companies, whose employees find themselves suddenly working from home, some without any cybersecurity controls in place.

Reducing your risks

Teleworking increases risk of incidents

Employees working from their personal or new unsecured computers could create easy entry points to the organization’s systems.

Increase in phishing campaigns

Malicious parties are taking advantage of the crisis to create all types of new schemes surrounding coronavirus. Since phishing is often the primary method used by attackers, it is imperative to protect employees’ emails against malwares and social engineering.

Exchanging sensitive data

Employees are going to rely more on emails to exchange documents and information. Without adequate protection I.e.: encryption, organizations may lose confidentiality and integrity of their data.

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Implementing cybersecurity solutions adapted to your entity’s needs

Your organization can quickly benefit from integrated cybersecurity solutions, in order to minimize the negative impacts of the coronavirus situation.

Furthermore, information security awareness training will be important in the coming weeks to teach employees best practices while working remotely.

Temporary protection for (3) months

To meet the pressing needs of SMEs facing the current crisis, Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton and VARS are offering a three-month temporary protection that allows you to quickly improve your security posture in the current situation of COVID-19.

The solution requires no annual commitment, no equipment is needed, and installation will be done remotely.

The managed and integrated solution includes:

24/7 monitoring and advanced protection of your workstations and servers as well as temporary workstations used by remote employees.

Sophisticated email security with artificial intelligence to detect malicious URLs and attachments, and block phishing and social engineering, including identity theft, which is growing exponentially.

Tools to secure, exchange, and protect sensitive and confidential information with third parties.

Information security awareness online training to educate your employees on the risks and good practices, particularly in a teleworking context.

Access to a Virtual CISO (Chief information security officer) on demand to provide strategic guidance.

Protect your most valuable assets with the help of our dedicated experts

Contact our team today.

In addition, if you have been victim of a security incident, we invite you to immediately call the VARS emergency service at 514-949-6876 or 514-941-7829. We can help you now.

18 Mar 2020  |  Written by :

Guillaume Caron is a cybersecurity expert at Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton. Contact him today!

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The advent of COVID-19 requires organizations to adapt their work methods to ensure everyone’s health and safety, while continuing to serve their clientele well.

A business has a responsibility to safeguard the health of everyone in the work environment at all times. We are currently experiencing an extraordinary situation caused by COVID-19, which requires exceptional precautions.

Here are some steps you can take to keep your operations safe.

Protect your staff by adjusting the way you work

It’s important to remind employees of the right habits to adopt to keep everyone healthy, such as the measures suggested by the World Health Organization (WHO), like washing your hands often, avoiding handshakes, etc.

However, in the case of the current coronavirus situation, additional measures must be taken:

  • If it’s possible for your organization to do so, opt for teleworking;
  • Limit all outside travel;
  • Reorganize tasks within your teams;
  • For meetings with your clients and partners, promote videoconferencing or reduce the number of participants;
  • Use all the technology at your disposal to pursue your activities remotely;
  • If your staff has to be present on site for customer service, consider team rotation.

Stay on top of the situation

An organization should have a contingency plan for crisis situations, applicable in the case of COVID-19. This could include governance measures, such as:

  • Establishing a strategic evaluation committee;
  • Identifying priority operations;
  • Identifying additional resources that can compensate for staff shortages;
  • Having training tools;
  • Having an absence management policy;
  • Planning regular communications with your staff.

These measures prevent large-scale contamination and ensure your organization’s ongoing operations.

Employers’ responsibilities and employees’ rights

All organizations have an obligation to protect the health and safety of their workers on their work premises. While they may be required to respect their employees’ privacy, employers have the right to enquire about their health in this specific situation of the coronavirus. Employers must also take into account the recommendations of governments and the WHO, which call for preventive quarantine of an employee returning from an international trip.

We invite you to consult these official sources of information on a regular basis in order to monitor the situation and adapt your organization’s policies as developments occur.

Ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux

World Health Organization

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Jean-François Boudreault
Partner | Human resources consulting

Teleworking is inevitable for many organizations in this period of reorganization due to COVID-19. Here are some best practices to implement for ensuring a successful transition.

We are experiencing an exceptional situation due to the spread of the coronavirus and, in order to contribute to maintaining the health and safety of all, many organizations are opting to telework. These new work habits require some adjustments, and entrepreneurs and managers must take several factors into consideration.

Reaping the benefits of teleworking

If you are still hesitant or doubtful about this necessary change, you should know that there are many benefits to telework and, if you adapt your management methods judiciously to this new practice, you will be able to take advantage of them. Among the recognized advantages, you will find:

  • Better productivity due to reduced travel time and more flexible schedule management;
  • Greater employee engagement through reduced stress and improved quality of life;
  • A decrease in absenteeism;
  • Reduced long-term costs for the organization.

Assessing the nature of the work

Obviously, not all jobs lend them themselves to telework. You may need to re-evaluate certain roles and, in some cases, provide additional equipment to ensure that everything goes smoothly. Proceed in stages:

  • Identify individual tasks that are more intellectual in nature;
  • Validate the computer systems used as well as the technology recommended by the organization, such as the speed of the internet connection and access to a secure internal network;
  • If your organization has a union, involve it in the process;
  • Plan for flexibility and other benefits for employees who will not be able to telework.

Offseting the disadvantages

This change may cause some discomfort, including more difficult access to resources, professional isolation and lack of direct contact with one’s team. In addition, it can become difficult to draw the line between one’s personal and professional life.

It is also necessary to ensure that the technological equipment used at home makes it possible for operations to function properly and preserves the security and confidentiality of the organization’s data.

Your managers and employees will need coaching and training in order to function well in such a context.

Stayin in touch with your teams

  • Provide regular updates by conference call with your team members;
  • Enquire about their well-being and cultivate interpersonal relationships;
  • Use all the technologies at your disposal to follow up and support your staff’s needs in the performance of their tasks.

Maintaining data confidentiality

  • Transmit information technology (IT) instructions well;
  • Remind your employees and business partners of the rules they must follow;
  • Ensure secure access to the necessary platforms;
  • If necessary, provide additional equipment to ensure that productivity is maintained in complete security;
  • Validate insurance coverage for the equipment provided.

Setting objectives to be achieved

  • If this is not already the case, ask your employees to provide you with timesheets to better track the hours spent on different tasks;
  • Measure the progress of the work by objectives to be achieved;
  • Reinforce the bond of trust with your employees;
  • Define a team operating mode and work routine (frequency of virtual meetings, prioritization of tasks and objectives, expectations of each person, etc.);
  • Ensure proper communication and that everyone understands the work to be accomplished;
  • Be flexible and adapt to circumstances as necessary to better achieve objectives.

Remember that, as an employer, you are responsible for ensuring the health and safety of your workers, even when their workplace is at home. It is to your advantage to have a written policy in place regarding health and safety in the home workplace.

Our experts can advise you and provide you with all the necessary support in order to better equip you for this unexpected situation. Teleworking can be an effective and beneficial solution if you set everything in motion for its success.

This article was written with the collaboration of Katy Langlais, Manager of Human Resources Consulting.

16 Mar 2020  |  Written by :

Jean-François Boudreault is a partner at Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton. He is your expert in human...

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On March 10, 2020, Finance Minister Ernie Steeves tabled New Brunswick’s 2020-21 budget.

The budget projects a $92.4 million surplus in 2020-21 and sees the province’s net debt decrease futher.

The net debt is currently estimated at $13.9 billion, and is expected to decline by $129.3 million in 2020-21.

The estimates provided in Budget 2020 show that the province projects a surplus of $97.7 million for the 2019-20 fiscal year, an improvement of $74.6 over the $23.1 million surplus projected for the same fiscal year in the previous budget.

Tax measures

No changes to the corporate tax rates, or the $500,000 small business limit, are proposed.

Sales and excise taxes

Budget 2020 proposes no changes to the current 15% HST rate, which is composed of a federal component of 5% and a provincial component of 10%.

The gasoline tax will decrease by 4.63 cents/L from 15.5 cents/L to 10.87 cents/L.

The motive fuel (diesel) tax will also decrease by 6.05 cents/L from 21.5 cents/L to 15.45 cents/L.

Provincial property taxes

New Brunswick’s provincial property tax rates will begin decreasing over a four-year period from 2021 to 2024.

Consult our document below for more details.