Canada still vulnerable to cyber-attacks, says auditor general

OTTAWA — The federal government’s inability to protect its own networks and critical infrastructure from cyber-threats was laid bare Tuesday, after Canada’s auditor general pointed to holes in the country’s cyber-security strategy despite more than a decade of work and almost $1 billion spent.

The auditor’s fall 2012 report put a renewed focus on cyber-security at the federal level, as governments around the world continue to face cyber-based attacks. With more of the federal government’s business going online, critics argued the report showed how far behind Canada is on cyber-security. Federal officials told the auditor general they feared the “cyber threat environment is evolving more rapidly than the government’s ability to keep pace,” his report said.

Governments are “starting to understand the nature of the threat” they face, said Nart Villeneuve, a senior threat researcher with TrendMicro in Toronto, but he added the federal government still has a way to go to prove it can keep sensitive information secure. It failed to do so, for instance, in a January 2011 cyber-attack on Treasury Board and Department of Finance systems.

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